In an apparent clash with the new director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council, Casey Jarman, who created the Twilight Concert Series, the Living Traditions Festival and the Brown Bag Concert Series has severed ties with the city.
The spring and summertime events are central to Salt Lake City’s cultural vitality and have not only brought entertainment to tens of thousands over 27 years, but also have put Utah’s capital in the spotlight for its emphasis on culture.
“I just wanted to give something to the community,” he said Wednesday. “The hardest thing for me [about leaving] was I didn’t get to properly thank all the people who helped me throughout the years.”
His departure in October was never announced.
Jarman has worked for four mayors and began creating Living Traditions and the Brown Bag Series while working part time.
The Twilight Concert Series, which this year begins July 10, started as a small weekend offering at Gallivan Plaza and has now grown to a big name series that fills Pioneer Park to overflow capacity and brings people downtown from across the region.
“I’m very proud of them,” Jarman said of the events. “I’m very proud to have been part of them.”
Living Traditions is coming up May 16-18 and Jarman said he may have to leave town.
“It breaks my heart,” he said. “I wish this mayor would have stepped in.”
But rather than fight his ouster last October, Jarman said he decided to go quietly. News of the split finally leaked out this week.
“It was a classic case where I worked for one director [Nancy Boskoff] for 25 years,” he said. “The new person [Karen Krieger] came in and we clashed. And that’s what happens.”
City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa had only praise for Jarman.
“He laid the foundation for what is the most popular downtown event of the whole summer,” LaMalfa said.
“He single-handedly set the vision for what made that [Twilight] concert series great.”
Beyond that, LaMalfa noted that Jarman developed Twilight and Living Traditions “out of nothing.”
“He is a very remarkable human being. I was lucky to work with him.”
Salt Lake City would not be what it is today culturally without Jarman, added Councilman Luke Garrott.
“His contributions to the cultural scene are enormous,” Garrott said. “We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”
A request to City Hall for a comment on Jarman’s departure was not returned Wednesday.
For his part, Jarman said he’s taking some time off to decide what’s next for him.
“You do these things. You invest yourself. ... It’s hard,” he said. “My thing now is I’m just moving on. I want to hold my head up and move on.”