In the end, it was the glimpse of the ladies’ room that sealed the deal.
While interviewing for the role of executive director at the Center for the Arts at Kayenta in 2017, Jan Broberg took a walking tour of the newly completed facility. Her host: Kayenta founder and developer, Terry Marten, with whom she had met nearly a decade before when he laid out his vision for the center.
Upon their arrival at the ladies’ room just off the lobby, Terry beckoned Jan inside—causing her to dissolve into tears instantly. “I said, ‘You put seven stalls in!’” Jan recalls. “And Terry replied, ‘Yes, I had your notes from when we talked all those years ago; you told me that if we wanted to get a 150-seat theater audience through a 15-minute intermission, we’d need seven stalls in the ladies’ room.’”
“I don’t have many people who listen to me like that,” Jan adds, still marveling at the memory. “So, when Terry asked if I’d consider moving back and taking the job, I couldn’t turn it down.”
On July 1, Jan retired from her post at Kayenta, where she made the concept of listening—to her fellow employees, to members of the community, to sponsors and supporters, and to those asking her for advice and guidance during difficult times—a top priority. She leaves behind a legacy of partnerships and programming that is unique in southern Utah. Most importantly, she maintained her unwavering focus on the center’s mission to “develop and create an environment that fosters diverse artistic endeavors for educational and cultural enrichment purposes.”
At the time that Jan accepted the job at Kayenta, she had been living in Los Angeles, pursuing acting roles in film, television and on the stage. “I was working five part-time jobs so I could live the dream,” she says, laughing. She left St. George with a goal of finding a way to bring her life’s story to the big screen. At the time, Jan had just seen St. George Musical Theater lose its home (prompting the dissolution of her job as executive director), her marriage had melted down, and she was mourning the loss of a beloved stepdaughter. Hollywood beckoned, with the promise of a brand-new beginning, and the potential to realize her lifelong dream.
Says Jan, “I had friends in the entertainment industry who were producers, and they’d read my mom’s self-published book. One friend, in particular, said, ‘We have to make this into a film.’ He went to several places; Lifetime was interested, but ultimately it never happened. But I kept trying to put my story of hope out there, and when one thing didn’t work, I’d try another.”
Jan continued to work steadily, amassing a respectable resume of on-screen and on-stage credits. But eventually, Terry’s offer proved too attractive to pass up. “The chance to do something brand new for the community, and to present programming that was unlike anything being offered in any other venue, was a dream come true,” Jan says. “Building really diverse audience participation was a huge deal. So many people here want to see something unique and different, and that was really exciting and meaningful to me.”
During Jan’s tenure, she oversaw never-before-seen productions, from the wistful comedy of The Full Monty to the searing drama of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, to the transformation of the Center into 1930s Berlin for a production of Cabaret, along with concerts, festivals, lectures and a host of other engaging events. Just before her retirement, Kayenta presented a sold-out run of Rent, which Jan counts among her most treasured achievements.
“That one was really fantastic,” she confides, her face wreathed in smiles. “When I came back to St. George after nine years, I didn’t know who was still performing, who was still directing. So having been able to build a professional theater community that gets people involved in supporting it, and then getting the right audience to come…artistically for me, that was so satisfying. And that particular production showed that people are really excited to have a choice of artistic ‘nourishment’ that’s maybe a little spicier; a little saucier. That was incredibly fulfilling for me, and for all of our staff.”
Now that Jan is no longer at the helm at Kayenta, she is eagerly embracing the next chapter in her life—one in which she can devote large chunks of time to her two passions: acting and advocacy for those who have experienced distress, especially as children. Even as she was tying up loose ends at the center at the end of June, Jan was in Salt Lake City filming a Lifetime made-for-TV production that will likely air this fall, in which she plays the role of an attorney.
During breaks in filming, Jan spent her free hours in a recording studio, capturing the audio version of her book. She is also serving as a producer on a nine-part series based on her life that will stream on NBC Peacock beginning in October, with Colin Hanks playing her father, and Anna Paquin as her mom. Additionally, she is recording episodes of her eponymous podcast, and staffing up for her new foundation established to promote child safety and inspire hope.
“I believe my magic, my superpower, is my positive attitude, and my ability to give hope to someone who’s been through a horrible experience,” Jan concludes. “I want them to know that they can come back. If there’s a scratch in the record of their life that plays in their head, they can lift the needle and move it past the scratch, and create new, happy music in the future. That’s my wish: to be a beacon of hope for those who may have lost theirs.”
Jan Broberg has been featured on Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, The View and The Greg Gutfeld Show.