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UtahPresents is in. The Grand Theatre and The Leonardo are not.
"In" means inclusion among 23 large arts and cultural organizations that will receive the highest level of funding next year from Salt Lake County's Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) tax. Based on current collection projections of the tenth-of-a-cent tax for 2016, those groups will divide $10.6 million. Utah's Hogle Zoo and Friends of the Tracy Aviary will split $2.6 million.
The Salt Lake County Council approved an advisory committee's recommendation Tuesday for splitting the funding among the big arts groups whose number is statutorily restricted to 23.
Next year, to qualify for this level of ZAP funding, an organization must have a three-year average of annual expenditures of at least $335,000.
UtahPresents had been among ZAP's large groups when it was known as Kingsbury Hall Presents, but it had dropped back into a second tier of ZAP funding for smaller arts councils and community groups.
It'll be back in the big leagues in 2016, projected to receive $172,389 to help support a $1 million budget.
As usual, the largest allocation (21 percent) will go the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera $2.2 million. The next largest recipients are the Natural History Museum of Utah ($1.2 million), Ballet West ($1 million) and Red Butte Garden ($950,000).
John T. Nielsen, former Utah commissioner of public safety and chairman of the advisory board, said his panel faced a difficult choice in rejecting the first-tier funding applications from The Grand Theatre Foundation and The Leonardo. Those decisions, he said, "don't suggest we thought they weren't worthy."
But an intricate grading system used by the advisory committee to evaluate applications revealed some concerns about The Leonardo's "artistic and cultural vibrancy," Nielsen said. "It's not quite yet found its cultural identity and there are also problems with its financial health." It will receive lower, second-tier funding.
Similar financial concerns weakened The Grand Theatre's point total, he added, noting that ZAP overseer Victoria Bourns and her staff have been working closely with both groups "so they clearly understand where they can improve. We didn't have an adversarial relationship."
After the funding disbursement received unanimous council approval, conservative Council Chairman Richard Snelgrove called ZAP "a tax where the residents of Salt Lake County are getting their money's worth."
Top 10 recipients
Organization and potential 2016 funding*
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera • $2,231,805
Natural History Museum of Utah • $1,157,750
Ballet West • $1,021,783
Red Butte Garden • $950,402
Hale Center Theatre • $947,589
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium • $697,806
Pioneer Theatre Co. • $642,973
Utah Museum of Fine Art • $418,493
Salt Lake Arts Council • $337,128
Salt Lake Film Society • $287,843
Hogle Zoo • $2,482,976
Friends of Tracy Aviary • $144,512
* Final figured based on 2016 tax receipts