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Good thing an improving economy is projected to generate more sales-tax revenues for Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) programs, because the demand for these funds from small arts and cultural organizations keeps growing.
The Salt Lake County Council accepted an advisory board's recommendation Tuesday to award ZAP funding totaling $1.8 million to 149 small arts organizations whose annual expenditures are less than $250,000.
Grants are expected to range from $80,000 to the Sundance Institute for programming it does in Salt Lake County to $500 for the Telugu Association of Utah, which represents an indigenous people from southeastern India.
"The amounts seem so small, but they are vital to these organizations. It's really a make or break for many of them," said Councilwoman Jenny Wilson. "It's great to see so many good organizations [involved]."
Added her colleague, Jim Bradley: "The Tier II ZAP program may not get the same level of attention as the ballet and everyone else among the big arts groups. But Tier II is the heart and soul of our community.
"I'm delighted that people who put this [ZAP program] together understood there are two different levels of the creative process and made room for these smaller organizations and community arts groups," he added.
Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth, who has been a member of this ZAP advisory group for six years, praised the experience as he leaves that position as required by law.
"I'm so grateful that the voters approved the revenue stream for ZAP," Applegarth said, referring to the tenth-of-a-cent sales tax that voters have authorized the county to collect in three different elections, most recently in 2014.
"What a wonderful thing," he added, "not only for the community in every way but for the economy."
Applegarth pointed out to the County Council that the 149 smaller arts groups receiving funding spent $35.5 million in the county last year and enticed an additional $17 million from supporters through in-kind contributions.
More than 3.3 million people participated in programs run by these small cultural groups, almost 70 percent of those enjoying the experience for free.
In addition, almost 24,000 volunteers donated time and efforts to the success of these varied endeavors.
"That is huge," Applegarth said.
The advisory council went through a rigorous process in evaluating 154 applications for more than $3.2 million, he said, including 14 funding requests from new organizations
Of those, five were rejected because they "did not demonstrate an arts and cultrual mission or provide a clear public and cultural art benefit."
The $1.8 million projected to be available next year is more than the small arts groups have had at their disposal since the Great Recession sharply curtailed funding in 2008.
Last year, $1.7 million was divided between 137 organizations. The previous year, $1.76 million was split between 142 groups.
The County Council will receive a recommendation later this fall on ZAP funding for the 23 largest arts organizations, such as the Utah Symphony & Opera.
Top small ZAP recipients
Sundance Institute •
Murray City Cultural Arts • $75,000
Sandy Arts Guild •
Utah Cultural Celebration
Center • $65,000
The Leonardo • $62,000
Utah Presents • $53,000
Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation •
Bad Dog Arts • $40,000
Plan-B Theatre Co. •
This Is the Place •
Center for Documentary Expression and Art •
Source: Salt Lake County