CANDIDATE: Laura Cushman (SALT LAKE CITY: CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3)

Utah Cultural Advocacy Alliance Grade: A+ (100%)

  • Candidate Name: Laura Cushman
  • Your Municipality: Salt Lake City
  • Elected office for which you are running: City Council District 3

Question 1: Should government be involved in funding the arts and humanities?
Yes

Question 2: Have you had a personal experience with arts, culture, or humanities that have had an impact on your life?
Yes

3b // Optional, explain your experience.
My mother was an Art History major and worked in local galleries when I was growing up. Any day off of school when I was growing up was spent at an art museum in Chicago. When I would protest in favor of going to a park or the zoo, my mom would always respond with, "Do you know how lucky you are to live so close to so many wonderful museums?!" As a child, I did not, but now, as an adult and parent to 3 young children, I am so grateful that my mom shared her passion with me and that I can now share it with my family. I believe all children should be exposed to arts, culture and humanities, and access to these items should not be a barrier for any individual.

Question 3: Do you support public funding for city and county arts councils who then re-grant that money to local arts and humanities organizations?
Yes

3b // Optional, explain why or why not.
As mentioned above, I believe all individuals who want to engage in arts programming should be able to do so and public funding can help with access for both artists and art enthusiasts. Additionally, funding helps support outreach programs that can impact people who have had no previous interaction with art/culture/humanities and turn them into lifelong patrons and supporters.

Question 4: Do you support Percent for Art programs, which designate 1% of public building costs for public art that are included within that building? Currently, only 8 Utah municipalities have such a program.
Yes

4b // Optional, explain why or why not.
Access to art and different art mediums displayed throughout a city is one of the best ways for residents to interact with their surroundings. I love that viewing and appreciating art does not need to cost money and public displays are great for community engagement. Public art can serve as landmarks, whimsical discoveries, memorials to
history, identifiers for a neighborhood or a public building (like a library), and conversation starters.

Question 5: Do you support having a Percent-for-Art program in your own municipality?
Yes

5b // Optional, explain why or why not.

Yes! Access to art and different art mediums displayed throughout a city is one of the best ways for residents to interact with their surroundings. I love that viewing and appreciating art does not need to cost money and public displays are great for community engagement. Public art can serve as landmarks, whimsical discoveries, memorials to history, identifiers for a neighborhood or a public building (like a library), and conversation starters. I would love to see more art initiatives that seep into the residential areas of the city as well.

Question 6: Do you consider the arts and cultural sector an economic driver in Utah?
Yes

6b // Optional, explain why or why not.
In Utah, I really appreciate that our residents support and invest in the humanities, and the joy these programs bring is apparent in the dialogue you overhear amongst residents. The strength of our arts programming is 2-fold; first, in the enjoyment of our offerings, and second in their economic impact. Arts and culture programs contribute in so many ways, and the economic impact is significant. Salt Lake City has just participated in a nationwide study (conducted by the Salt Lake City Arts Council in partnership with Americans for the Arts) of the impact of the arts on the local economy and the numbers are strong. Diverse arts programming in our city is heavily supported by residents AND it is a major drive for tourism. This results in revenue that supports our city and will lead to further commitment to future offerings.

Question 7: 32 municipalities have a RAP (recreation, arts, and parks) type tax to help support cultural organizations in their communities. Would you support a RAP type tax such as this in your own municipality? If your municipality already has such a local option sales RAP-type sales tax and you support it, answer yes.
Yes

7b // Optional, explain your experience.
We are fortunate in Salt Lake County to have a well-managed, extensive arts and culture grants program, made feasible by Salt Lake County voters when they reauthorized the Zoo, Arts and Parks program for the third time with more than two thirds of the voters in support. The ZAP program gives grants to a wide range of arts and culture nonprofits, with budgets large and small, serving Salt Lake City residents of all ages and backgrounds.

Question 8: Municipalities can facilitate partnerships between cultural organizations and the local tourism sector to boost the local economy. Do you support this? Optional, explain why or why not. 
Yes

8b // Optional, explain why or why not. 

There are many cultural tourism partnerships across the country and we can work to develop even more creative connections between the tourism sector and the arts and culture industry. Two of the major reasons why people travel to Utah is for the excellent outdoor experiences and for the diverse cultural experiences we offer. It is in the best interest of our people and our city to continue to invest n cultural offerings and promote them via the local tourism sector.

Question 9: Municipal governments can create Cultural Districts - with or without tax incentives. Governments sometimes fund these via bed or tourism taxes within the Cultural District boundaries, but it can be done within municipal budgets fairly cheaply. Is this something you would support?
Yes

9b // Optional, explain why or why not. 

Cultural districts can introduce a vibrancy into a city, and encourage residents to explore areas of a city, they may otherwise not visit. For this reason, I am in favor of such initiatives. There are some very successful cultural districts we can look at as models, for example, in the nearby state of Colorado. Some towns in Utah are moving toward cultural districts as well. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have partnered, with ongoing funding, to establish the “Cultural Core” in downtown Salt Lake, which will be announced and launched in the near future. The Cultural Core recognizes that downtown Salt Lake offers a wide range of experiences, something for everyone, and serves as the city, county and regional center for arts and culture. I look forward to watching this this project unfold!

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