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An improving economy means smaller arts groups in Salt Lake County are likely to get a little more money next year from the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) tax.

Current expectations are that 142 smaller arts groups will split $1.76 million next year. That's about $120,000 more than was available this year when 143 groups divvied up funds from the tax — a penny for every $10 spent in the county — that has supported zoological, cultural, botanical, recreational and artistic programs since 1997.

Final figures won't be firm until next summer and could go up or down, depending on the economy.

Recommendations for ZAP-tax funding for larger organizations — those with annual expenditures exceeding $250,000 — will be delivered to the council by early December. This year, about $9.6 million was divided among the 23 groups in that category, including Ballet West and the Utah Symphony & Opera.

The 2014 projection for smaller arts groups includes a first: It sets aside $50,000 next year for what a county advisory board is calling the "Local Arts Agency Advancement" program.

The idea, said advisory board member and Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth, is to help city arts councils and other small groups that depend on volunteers to hire a part-time, professional staff member who can build up the organization and attract more outside funding.

"We want to create a position that will teach people how to fish rather than giving them fish," Applegarth analogized. "It will be a more effective use of ZAP money. … It will introduce professionalism and training."

Over the years, he told the Salt Lake County Council this week , the advisory board recognized that well-established arts councils, like those in Murray and Sandy, secured larger ZAP grants because they were better organized and led by professional staff members who knew how to get things done.

Starting with a $50,000 allocation now, but projecting a total investment of $720,000 over the next seven years, the advisory board believes it can spread the wealth around by helping more cities and nonprofit groups to upgrade their staffing and products, Applegarth said.

The program will be small initially, he noted, with funding going only to three cities, townships or arts groups. To qualify for ZAP funding, applicants will have to provide a maximum of up to $10,000 in matching funds to hire a part-time employee, who would be required to receive training from the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.

The match requirement is likely to limit the number of applicants, Applegarth said, but that will enable the advisory board to "start slow so we can learn from the three."

"We want every arts council to be as strong as Sandy or Murray," said Vicki Bourns, who runs the ZAP program for the county.

County Council members embraced the advisory board's approach — and the way it distributed the projected funding, which fell far short of the $2.8 million requested by 145 applicants.

"I like the sense of fairness," said Councilman Michael Jensen.

Added Councilman Jim Bradley: "Local arts councils reflect the fabric of the community and what that community stands for. … [The board] puts the money in places where it does good."

The council approved the advisors' funding recommendations, which ranged from a high of $75,815 for the Sundance Institute and the Sandy Arts Guild to a low of $1,264 for the Salt Lake American Muslim group and the Park City Chamber Music Society for performances in Salt Lake County.

Bourns noted that two applications were rejected — from the Italian Center of the West and JAKS Youth Theatre Co. — while the Latino Community Information and Education Center did not qualify as a nonprofit.

Twitter: @sltribmikeg —

Tier II ZAP funding

O For a complete breakdown of funding allocations approved by the Salt Lake County Council, go to

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