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Salt Lake County's two dozen largest arts groups are likely to divide $13.7 million in funding next year from the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) tax.

That's about $500,000 more than was available this year, signifying the continuing slow but steady rebound of the county's economy from the Great Recession.

The recovery also is reflected in the financial records of the 22 arts and culture groups and three zoological organizations up for funding next year, said Elizabeth Mitchell, chairwoman of an advisory council whose recommendation received unanimous County Council approval Tuesday.

"The financial health of this year's pool is the strongest since the recession — and continues to get better," said Mitchell. Now they're to the level they were in 2007. It's taken nine years to crawl back."

The large arts and culture groups received a slightly smaller percentage of the ZAP funding — provided through a tenth-of-a-cent sales tax — because this was the first year the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy was eligible for zoological funding.

The aquarium will get a little more than $1 million next year, about half as much as Utah's Hogle Zoo ($2.3 million) but considerably more than Tracy Aviary ($297,000).

State law limits the number of large arts groups that can receive ZAP funding, so the county could provide grants to only 22 of the 24 applicants.

Just as last year, neither The Grand Theatre at Salt Lake Community College nor The Leonardo made the cut. Both will be among the largest recipients of funding next spring when the county divvies up another pot of ZAP money set aside for smaller arts organizations.

Among the large groups, the Utah Symphony & Opera once again led recipients with $2.2 million.

Next in line were the Natural History Museum of Utah ($1.2 million), Ballet West ($1.2 million), Red Butte Garden ($1.04 million), Hale Center Theater ($955,000) and Pioneer Theater Company ($620,345).

This year, large arts groups had to prove they had operational expenses of at least $335,700, an amount that will grow next year to $354,000, said advisory council member Grace Lin.

Mitchell said the county's investments in its arts, culture and zoological programs is providing rewards for residents.

Just under 4 million people attended events last year, she said, including 1.3 million free admissions.

The arts groups had total qualifying expenses of $77.3 million and provided full- and part-time jobs to 2,326 people — plus 5,719 volunteers.

Smaller groups receiving Zoo, Arts and Parks funding

Among the smaller of Salt Lake County's large arts groups, ZAP funding also went to:

• Ririe-Woodbury Dance Foundation ($111,348)

• Utah Humanities ($106,785)

• Repertory Dance Theatre ($90,863)

• Utah Heritage Foundation ($71,900)

• Art Access ($65,001)

Source: Salt Lake County