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Plans developing to help develop downtown's core

Published February 7, 2012 5:40 pm

Arts and culture • City, County form tax-sharing pact.
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Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City are getting closer to being able to jointly distribute funding dedicated to building downtown's "cultural core."

During the past year, while a consultant surveyed more than 70 arts and cultural organizations about ways to make downtown more active, the two government entities created a six-member committee to handle sales tax revenues set aside for use in enlivening that district.

The committee's next task is to recommend a process to city and county officials for "investing" these funds, which could amount to almost $10 million over a 20-year period, in strategies that promote more diverse cultural opportunities capable of attracting visitors from across the region.

Updates on the progress that has been made were provided Tuesday to the county and city councils by Phil Jordan, director of the county's Center for the Arts, and Steven Wolff, a consultant with AMS Planning & Research. Eventually, the two councils will jointly allocate funding.

An interlocal agreement between the two government agencies specifies that each will give up a share of the sales tax generated over and above 2008 levels in an area from 200 West to 200 East between South Temple and 400 South. That revenue, which is capped at $500,000 annually, will be available for projects in a larger "cultural core," which extends from 600 West to 400 East between North Temple and 400 South.

The funding is not designed to supplement grants that cultural organizations already receive from Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) taxes, Wolff said. Instead, it will be dispensed to applicants whose projects widen the variety of arts available, encourage public participation, create senses of place or develop promotional initiatives that will bring visitors from around the valley, state and region to downtown Salt Lake City.

"A revenue stream will be available if we have well-conceived ideas," Wolff said, adding that the governments' dedication of funding "reflects a long-standing commitment to what makes this area vibrant."

Salt Lake County will be represented on the committee by attorney David Gee; Lori Feld, with the advertising agency McCann Erickson; and Leigh von der Esch, the Utah Office of Tourism's managing director. Representing Salt Lake City will be marketing consultant Martha Felt Barton; communications coach Beth Levine of SmartMouth Communications; and Nan Ellin, chairwoman of the University of Utah's department of city and metropolitan planning.

County Council chairman David Wilde, who represents Murray and parts of several other central valley cities, said he understands the attention being focused on downtown but encouraged Jordan and Wolff not to ignore opportunities to promote arts and culture in the suburbs.

County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw, whose district includes downtown, responded that funding for the cultural core is generated largely from that area and will not be diverted from other parts of the valley.





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