Measuring the Economic Impact of Utah’s Cultural Businesses and Recommendations for Increasing this Sector’s Health



Utah has a long tradition of strong public and private support for cultural businesses, in addition to individual artists and those who work in the cultural sector, many of whom are essentially small businesses or independent contractors. The health, vibrancy, quality, and diversity of Utah’s cultural community are the envy of many of our colleagues across the country. Utah’s cultural businesses are a sound investment. They attract and develop businesses, create and support jobs, increase tourism, and generate revenue for state government. And, with support from the public sector, our cultural assets could shine even more brightly.


Top 5 Cultural Business Stats

Cultural businesses includes nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit businesses including galleries, graphic design firms, interior designers, film makers, photography studios, as well as individual artists, many of whom are independent contractors. In 2017 cultural businesses:

    1. Employed 79,328 Utahns (year prior: 60,552)
    2. Generated $3.5 billion in earnings (7% increase or gain of $220.1 million)
    3. Cultural business comprise 3.9% of Utah’s total employment and grew by 4.01% in 2014, making Utah the fastest growing state in the country for growth of cultural jobs
    4. Three cultural education programs (Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, POPS (Professional Outreach Programs in Schools), and iSEE (Informal Science Education Enhancement) served  1,575,189 Utah school children
    5. Direct income in UT from from historic rehabilitation projects using tax credits: $32,303,365 and 737 jobs

Types of Cultural Businesses

Why cultural businesses? We at Utah Cultural Alliance refer to entities in the creative sector as cultural businesses because they include far more than just nonprofits. Our sector includes for-profit businesses including galleries, graphic design firms, interior designers, film makers, photography studios, as well as individual artists, many of whom are independent contractors. Cultural businesses utilize a wide range of different funding models:



  • Galleries
  • Design: Graphic/Creative/Interior/Fashion, etc.
  • Film/TV/Video
  • Photography
  • Individual Artists (visual, music, dance, authors, poets, actors, etc.)
  • Presenting/Concert Venues 
  • Event Production
  • Recording Studios
  • Creative Directors
  • Theatres
  • Historic rehabilitation




    • Museums (arts, history/heritage, science, botanical gardens, zoos)
    • Universities
    • Archives 
    • Libraries
    • Presenting/Concert Venues
    • Theatres
    • Organizations: arts, folk arts, cultural, humanities, science, education, preservation, history, anthropology/archaeology, film/media, and heritage organizations.
    • Clubs: DUPs, historical societies, etc.  
    • Schools




Before we dive into the data, we want to remind readers that while economic impact is important, and the overall financial impact of the cultural sector in Utah is impressive, Utah’s cultural businesses contribute to the quality of life of all Utahns.  “[When] understanding and acknowledging the incredible economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture, we must always remember their fundamental value. They foster beauty, creativity, originality, and vitality. The arts [and humanities] inspire us, sooth us, provoke us, involve us, and connect us. But they also create jobs and contribute to the economy.” — Robert L. Lynch President and CEO Americans for the Arts.


Utah’s Cultural businesses are economic drivers


Statewide stats: ACPSA

Utah’s cultural businesses are major contributors to Utah’s economic health. Arts and humanities, to quote our friends at Americans for the Arts, means business. One important source for economic data is the Arts & Culture Production Satellite Account (ACPSA), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Their 2014 data reports that:

    • Cultural business as a percentage of Utah’s employment: 3.9%
    • Cultural employment growth in Utah: 4.01% in 2014, making Utah one of the fastest growing state sin the country for cultural jobs growth.


Statewide stats: creative vitality index

Western State Arts Federation (WESTAF), also tracks data for Utah. According to WESTAF’s 2015 Creative Vitality Index, Utah’s cultural businesses:


    • employed 79,328 Utahns (year prior: 60,552)
    • generated $3.5 billion in earnings (7% increase or gain of $220.1 million)
    • UT’s nonprofit sector generated $213 million in revenue (12% increase from year prior); this is a growth of $25.9 million in revenue.
    • UT’s State Arts Agency (Utah Division of Arts & Museums) awarded $1.5 million in grants to 226 recipients or $.52 award amount per capita
    • And, according to the CVI, Utah is 4th in the country for creative industries job creation

Utah is continuously striving towards economic growth. The cultural sector is not only an economic driver and job creator, but according to many national studies, municipalities with vibrant cultural communities see an increase in property value, residents, tourism, an influx of businesses (because their employees want to live/work in exciting places), increase in tax revenue, benefits to K-12 education, and more. It’s important to note that the above data is drawn from Duns & Bradstreet which doesn’t include entities with budgets under $50,000. This data is the floor of our sector’s impact, not the ceiling.


Statewide stats: Data Arts

Data Arts is a national database to which a number of Utah’s cultural businesses report their financial information. In 2016 53 organizations reported to Data Arts in Utah.

    • Workforce: 53 orgs employed 2,990 Utahns; 1,151 Utahns served on their boards; and utilized 3,837 volunteers
    • Total direct expenditures of $89,996,628
    • Total audience: 4,864,078
    • Below is a breakout graph of Utah’s nonprofit cultural businesses that report data to Data Arts 



Statewide Stats: Arts & Economic Prosperity V

Three Utah communities participated in Americans for the Arts massive economic data collection project that happens once every five years, Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP). Data was collected in 2015 and 2016 with results released in 2017 for the fifth of the AEP projects. The three participating communities were: Iron County, Logan, and Salt Lake City.


Iron County

    • 19 of 30 eligible nonprofit arts & cultural organizations participated
    • Expenditures // $13,330,445 (Arts & Cultural Organizations) + $62,797,842 (Arts & Cultural Audiences) = total expenditures: $76,128,287
    • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Jobs Supported // 240 (organizations) + 1,715 (audiences) = total jobs 1,955
    • Household income // $6,830,000  (organizations) + $27,431,000 (audiences) = total income $34,361,000
    • Revenue to Local Government // $243,000 (organizations) + $3,208,000 (audiences) = total local government revenue $3,451,000
    • Revenue to State Government // $357,000 (organizations) + $3,214,000 (audiences) = total state government revenue $3,571,000
    • 450,456 tourists game to Iron County for cultural happenings (90.6% of total audience)
    • Total event-related spending (this is for things such as meals, souvenirs/gifts, transportation, lodging, etc.): $62,797,842
      • By residents: $19.85 per person // total spending: $927,710
      • By nonresidents: $137.35 per person // $61,870,132




    • 57 of 114 eligible nonprofit arts & cultural organizations participated
    • Expenditures // $17,572,786 (Arts & Cultural Organizations) + $13,753,037 (Arts & Cultural Audiences) = total expenditures: $31,325,823
    • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Jobs Supported // 772 (organizations) + 332 (audiences) = total jobs 1,104 
    • Household income // $10,901,000 (organizations) + $6,450,000 (audiences) = total income $17,451,000
    • Revenue to Local Government // $505,000 (organizations) + $948,000 (audiences) = total local government revenue $1,453,000
    • Revenue to State Government // $595,000 (organizations) + $646,000 (audiences) = total state government revenue $1,241,000
    • 128,401 tourists game to Logan for cultural happenings (40.5% of total audience)
    • Total event-related spending (this is for things such as meals, souvenirs/gifts, transportation, lodging, etc.): $13,753,037
      • By residents: $12.96 per person // total spending: $2,444,761
      • By nonresidents: $88.07 per person // $11,308,276


Salt lake city 


    • 24 of 36 eligible nonprofit arts & cultural organizations participated
    • Expenditures // $112,442,764 (Arts & Cultural Organizations) + $194,120,153 (Arts & Cultural Audiences) = total expenditures: $306,562,917
    • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Jobs Supported // 5,157 (organizations) + 5,322 (audiences) = total jobs  10,479
    • Household income // $93,990,000 (organizations) + $121,696,000 (audiences) = total income $215,686,000
    • Revenue to Local Government // $4,315,000 (organizations) + $8,765,000 (audiences) = total local government revenue $13,080,000
    • Revenue to State Government // a$5,740,000 (organizations) + $9,117,000 (audiences) = total state government revenue $14,857,000
    • 1,842,194 tourists game to SLC for cultural happenings (24.9% of total audience)
      • 60.7% of these nonresident respondents said that “attending an arts/cultural event” was their primary purpose for visiting SLC
      • Average party size: 2.4
      • Average # of nights: .5
      • Age of cultural tourists to SLC: 42.4% 18-34, 19.4% 35-44, 13.1% 45-55, 11.7% 65 or older
    • Total event-related spending (this is for things such as meals, souvenirs/gifts, transportation, lodging, etc.): $194,120,153
      • By residents: $21.44 per person // total spending: $119,124,435
      • By nonresidents: $40.71 per person // $74,995,718
    • 5,425 volunteers donated a 219,266 total hours with a value of $5,165,907
    • Participating orgs received $6,368,929 of in-kind contributions


Let’s talk about these three communities in the aggregate for a moment. They — a tiny sliver of Utah — made a giant impact on Utah’s economy:

    • 13,528 Utahns
    • Added almost HALF A BILLION to Utah’s economy: $414,017,027 to be exact
    • Local government revenue: $17,984,000
    • State government revenue: $17,551,000


Statewide Stats: Historic Preservation

Utah has a rich history, and with it, rich  architecture that requires preservation. To quote Preservation Utah, one of our members, “Every day Utah citizens, governments, and institutions are assuring a future for their historic buildings by investing in, maintaining, and rehabilitating them today.” Both the federal and state governments encourage this investment in preservation through the Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) and the Utah Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Between 1990 and  2012, nearly $300 million in private capital has been invested in historic builds through the two programs: 








The Federal HTC was thankfully preserved in the recently passed federal tax overhaul. This credit equals 20% of the amount invested in rehabilitating a building on the historic registry. It can by used for commercial and income-producing properties. Because the Federal Investment Tax Credit is an offset against income tax that is owed, every time $100 is spent using the credit, $20 stays in Utah that otherwise would have been sent to the general fund in Washington. 


The Utah Historic Preservation is also equal to 20% but can be used for individual homes and residential property in addition to commercial and income-producing properties. By the numbers (data is from 1990-2012):

    • direct jobs created in UT from historic rehabilitation projects using tax credits: 737
    • indirect jobs created in UT from historic rehabilitation projects using tax credits: 1,539
    • direct income in UT from from historic rehabilitation projects using tax credits: $32,303,365
    • indirect income in UT from from historic rehabilitation projects using tax credits: $19,200,767


Indeed, as Preservation Utah has stated, “Historic preservation creates more jobs per $1 million of output than 84 percent of Utah industries and more income per $1 million of output than 90 percent of Utah Industries.”


Statewide Stats: Arts & Humanities Education

Utah voters value the arts & humanities as important subjects for children to provide a well-rounded education and best prepare them for creative, inquisitive, and thoughtful futures. Indeed, Utah is #1 in the country in  terms of children’s materials borrowed from libraries.


Following are percentages of students participating in fine arts courses in secondary education:









Visual Art 







Theatre Arts 





















Percent Students Taking Fine Arts




























Visual Art 







Theatre Arts 





















Percent Students Taking Fine Arts





















2017-18 Tentative







Visual Art 







Theatre Arts 





















Percent Students Taking Fine Arts







We are proud that Utah is home for several programs that supplement the required arts & humanities courses at the K-12 levels.


Beverly Taylor Arts Learning Program

This wonderful program brings an arts learning teacher into elementary schools to provide weekly instruction to children as well as work with teachers to create arts integrated curriculum. The arts can be a great tool for teaching additional subjects such as reading, science, math, history, and more. This program is funded in part by the Utah Legislature, participating schools are required to provide a portion of the cost. By the numbers from the  2016-17 school year:

    • 370 elementary schools are currently served by the BTSALP program
    • These schools serve 213,213 students


Fine Arts Outreach / POPS

Since the 1960s, Utah is also home to the Fine Arts Outreach program, or as it’s more commonly called, POPS (Professional Outreach Programs in the Schools). This program allows for thirteen of our state’s professional performing arts organizations to visit schools in the state and teach their art form. This program is partially funded by the Utah Legislature. The thirteen participating organizations must match funds from the state with at least a 1:1 match, but in most cases, they provide a 2:1 match. All participating organizations must visit all school districts  in the state at least once within a 3-5 year period. Participating organizations: 


    • Ballet West
    • Tanner Dance at the University of Utah
    • Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company
    • Repertory Dance Theatre
    • Springville Museum of Art 
    • Spy Hop
    • Timpanogos Storytelling
    • Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre
    • Utah Film Centre
    • Utah Museum of Fine Arts
    • Utah Opera
    • Utah Shakespeare Festival
    • Utah Symphony



By the numbers:

    • # of students receiving services from POPS: 645,345
    • # of educators (the visits also include professional licensure experiences): 32,331

Science outreach / isee

Similar to POPS, Utah is also home to the Science Outreach program or as it’s more commonly called iSee (Informal Science Education Enhancement). iSEE is a collaboration among nonprofit informal science education organizations in Utah. UCA cares about iSEE because many of these programs are part of a humanities education. These groups receive partial funding from the Utah State Legislature to provide science experiences to students and  teachers across Utah who would otherwise not be available to them. Participating organizations must match funds from the state with at least a 1:1 match, but in most cases, they provide a 2:1 match. Participating organizations: 


    • Clark Planetarium
    • Discovery Gateway
    • HawkWatch International
    • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
    • Natural History Museum of Utah
    • Thanksgiving Point
    • The Leonardo
    • Red Butte Garden
    • Utah Hogle Zoo



By the numbers: (2016-17 school year)

    • # of students receiving services from iSEE at their school: 346,289
    • # of students attending field trips to an iSEE organization: 370,342
    • # of educators engaging in professional development with iSEE: 1,986



Statewide Stats: Heritage Tourism

As residents of Utah, we know that this state is incredible. Tourists are increasingly discovering our great state. 22 million annual visitors come to our state; 1 million of which are International visitors. Millions of these visitors come for cultural reasons (see the # reflected above in the Arts & Economic Prosperity studies). Preservation Utah collected visitors stats from a # of historic sites including:






National Parks

Golden Spike National Historic Site


State Parks

Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, San Juan Co. Anasazi State Park Museum, Garfield Co.

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, Cedar City Camp Floyd-Stagecoach Inn State Park and Museum,

Utah Co.

Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum, Fillmore Wasatch Mountain State Park, John Huber House and

Creamery, Wasatch Co.

Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, Sevier Co. Antelope Island State Park, Fielding Garr Ranch, Davis Co. Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum,


Sites of Historical Interest

Bluff Fort Historic Site

John Jarvie Ranch, Daggett Co.

Cove Fort Historic Site, Millard Co.

Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area

Wolverton Mill, Wayne Co.

Logan Utah Temple

Logan Tabernacle, Family History Center

Historic Downtown Logan

Swett Ranch, Daggett Co.

Maynard Dixon Living History Museum, Mt. Carmel Parowan Historic Cemetery

Dr. Meeks Pioneer Farmstead and Urban Fishery, Iron Co. Historic Temple Square, the Beehive House, Church 






Museum, Family History Museum, and other historic buildings established by the LDS Church

Brigham Young Winter Home, St. George LDS Tabernacle, and Jacob Hamblin Home

Historic Benson Grist Mill, Tooele Co.



Cedar City Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum Great Basin Museum, Delta

Hyrum City Museum

Museum of Anthropology, Cache Co.

Museum of Moab

Goulding’s Museum and Trading Post, San Juan Co. Union Station, Odgen

Paradise Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum

Park City Museum

Parowan Historic Cemetery

Rock Church Museum, Parowan

Richmond Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum

Roy Historical Museum

Zion Human History Museum

American West Heritage Center and Festivals, Cache Co.


Heritage Events

Old Ephraim’s Mountain Man Rendezvous Boulder Heritage Festival

Brigham City Heritage Arts Festival Clarkston Pony Express Days

Golden Spike National Historic Site Railroaders’ Festival Echoing Traditional Ways Pow Wow, Cache Co.

Logan Pioneer Day Celebration

Mormon Miracle Pageant at the Manti Utah Temple Pioneer Day, Salt Lake City

Living Traditions Festival, Salt Lake City Spring City Heritage Days

















Data collected in 2012 shows a significant impact:

    • Parks: 953,181 visitors
    • Historic sites: 5,753,372 visitors
    • Museums: 346,268 visitors
    • Festivals & events: 209,917 visitors  


Statewide Stats: UCA’s Cultural Asset Map

In our efforts to measure the economic impact of Utah’s cultural sector, we realized that no one organization could list all of the organizations and businesses that comprise arts & humanities. To fill that void, we created our Cultural Asset Map (visit it at 



This map now lists over 300 pins of nonprofit organizations, cultural businesses, and individual artists & scholars. It grows daily. We collect data with each entity’s submissions Collectively, these entities:

  • employ 4,260.5 Utahns,
  • have a combined annual revenue of $125,772,064,
  • and, present 8,581 events around the state.


Statewide Stats: Historic Districts

Historic districts also can have a positive impact on property values as this data from Logan, Park City, and Provo reflects (below). 






















Utah Loves Culture

Cultural businesses aren’t just economic drivers for the state of Utah. Our state is also unique in its strong support for culture. The National Endowment from the Arts recently released their 2015 Audience Participation   Report, in which Utah had the highest cultural participation among adults in the nation. Utah was #1 for overall participation outside of the home, i.e. attending a visual or performing arts event or went to the movies. Utah was also first in a number of sub categories such as: art exhibits and watching movies live. Utah was in top ten for visiting heritage buildings, parks or sites and reading literature (poetry, plays, short stories, novels). Utah was eleventh for personally performing or creating artworks. Therefore, Utah could be a friendlier business environment for individual artists. The numbers:

#1: 84.5% // Overall Participation outside of home:#1: 51% // Live music, theatre, dance performances

#1: 33.9% // Art exhibits

#1: 72.6% // Watch movies live

#7: 35.6% // Visit Buildings, Neighborhoods, Parks for Historic/Design Value

#6: 57% // Read literature

#11: 53.6% // Personally Perform or Create Artworks


Employees love culture and the Workforce needs it

The impact of cultural businesses is beyond the number of jobs we create. “The success of my family’s business depends on finding and cultivating a creative and innovative workforce. I have witnessed firsthand the power of the arts [and humanities] in building these business skills. When we participate personally in [culture], we strengthen our ‘creativity muscles,’ which makes us not just a better ceramicist or chorus member, but a more creative worker—better able to identify challenges and innovative business solutions.” —  Christopher Forbes, Vice Chairman, Forbes, Inc. 


Access to culture creates a creative workforce. A robust cultural scene attracts businesses and employees. By the numbers:


    • A recent survey conducted by SLC’s Office of Economic Development found that a robust arts & cultural environment is the #1 most important factor that businesses consider when choosing to move to or expand in SLC
    • EDCUtah’s 2017 SL Business Study found that 
      • arts & entertainment and quality of Life were consistently listed as the #1 major contributor that keeps companies in SLC
      • arts & entertainment and quality of life were 2 of the top 3 factors for Utah to consider improving and raising awareness in order to attract star employees and businesses
    • A recent study conducted by the University of Utah College of Fine Arts reported:
      • 96% of the 24 Utah companies surveyed believe that businesses in their industry can only remain relevant if they have a creative workforce
      • 61% said that creativity is paramount to their success
      • When ranking qualities they look for in employees: creativity ranked at #1, 91% of hiring managers listed creativity first









One calendar to rule them all


Our cultural businesses — be they for profit or nonprofit — commonly tell us two main pain points: 1) they need more funding/revenue and 2) they need help growing their audience. Our Cultural Asset Map is one tool to help raise awareness, another is a tool created by our colleagues. An initiative of the Utah Arts & Cultural Coalition, is a one-stop resource for posting arts and cultural events that reaches 70,000  visitors each month. Event submissions are made by organizations and the site itself scours the internet for happenings in UT. The site also lists artists and venues around the state. By the numbers (2016 data):


    • Sessions = 744,396 
    • Users = 617,232 
    • Total page views = 2,044,163 
    • Average time on site = 2:47
    • Visitors from mobile/cellular device = 53%!
    • 69% of the site’s traffic is from Utah users


As of October 2017 there were the following profiles listed on the site:

    • Organizations = 3,052
    • Venues = 1,945
    • Events =  1,295
    • Artist Profiles = 649



Culture is part of our heritage

Public support for culture dates to the founding of this state and the arrival of Mormon pioneers. Brigham Young is famous for building a public theatre before he built the Salt Lake Temple. Indeed, Utah’s cultural sector owes a great deal to our state’s native Utahns such as the Ute tribe who have created art for thousands of years.


Utah has a number of big anniversaries coming up that showcase the importance that arts & humanities have in our community:

    • January 2, 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Alice Merrill Horne. Alice was a state legislators and important arts advocate who founded our Utah Arts Council, the oldest arts council in the entire country.
    • 2019 will see the 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad meeting in Utah’s Promontory Summit. 
    • 2020 will see the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and the 150th anniversary of Utah women not only receiving the vote but being the first territory/state in the country to hold an election in which women could vote.

Arts & humanities organizations are working on a myriad of celebrations to commemorate these important milestones.


Department of Heritage and Arts recently finished digitizing 175,000 negatives from The Salt Lake Tribune which provided a visual record of Utah life in the middle of the 20th century. Other collections also became available, such as pictures from San Juan County in the early 20th Century. Additionally, more than 120,000 archaeological site records can now be accessed in the field by engineers working in remote locations.


Public Support for Culture

An important factor in the economic health of Utah’s cultural businesses is the impact of public support, especially for nonprofit organizations and to a limited scale, support to further the careers or provide training for individual artists of all media. At the municipal level, hundreds of Local Arts, History, and other Cultural Agencies (LAAs) at the county and municipal levels also give funds to artists and nonprofits as well as create cultural  programming. 


Snapshot: Public Art

Eight municipalities in Utah have % for Public Art programs. Those programs are: Ogden City Arts, Salt Lake City Arts Council, Salt Lake County , Utah Division of Arts & Museums Public Art, Park City, Summit County, St. George ("Art Around the Corner" which is a non-profit public art organization), and newly, Moab. % for Art programs typically require 1% of of the costs of public capitol projects (some of which are buildings, some parks, some recreation capitol projects, it depends on the municipality), be saved for public art. Many of Utah’s % for art programs require that the art made by that  project’s money be used within the project itself. Others collect all of the % for art revenues into a central pot. Not all of these % for Art programs are spelled out in statue. Some are merely a practice of that municipality’s government. 


Snapshot: RAP Taxes

Sales tax revenue saved for cultural purposes is another source. In Utah, a significant amount of funding comes from RAP-type taxes since their creation in 1993. Currently seven counties and twenty-nine cities within Utah have RAP-type tax programs. The various names are: ZAP, RAP, PAR, RAMP, RAPZ, CARE. 


Total monies collected by this local options sales tax in 36 municipalities equaled $38,690,393





Cities and Counties that have passed the 1/10 of 1% Sales Tax for Cultural Organizations:

Counties: Duschene; Cache, RAPZ; Salt Lake, ZAP; Summit , RAP; Uintah; Washington, RAP; and Weber, RAMP



American Fork




Brian Head

Cedar City

Cedar Hills





Green River







North Salt Lake

Orem (CARE)







Tooele City (PAR)

West Bountiful

Woods Cross


By statute, RAP-type funds cannot replace funding available from the state through its grants to cultural nonprofits. The statute reads, “Without jeopardizing the state's ongoing support of its recreational and zoological facilities and its botanical, cultural, and zoological organizations, the Legislature intends to permit the counties of the state of Utah to enhance public financial support of Utah's publicly owned or operated recreational and zoological facilities, and botanical, cultural, and zoological organizations owned or operated by institutions or private nonprofit organizations, through the imposition of a county sales and use tax.” Additionally, city and county RAP-type taxes are not allowed to coexist. If a county passes a RAP-type tax in which there is a city with an already existent one, the city is required to dissolve their RAP-type tax. Each RAP-type tax is different. All of them can only be used for projects within the municipality that created it. Some fund cultural programming created by government, some are primarily re-grantors, some cover capitol projects, some cover government-only capitol projects, some include recreation (whereas some do not), and more.


There is certainly room for growth of public funding in order to boost the economic impact of the cultural business sector. In return, government receives a significant “bang for its buck,” as a snapshot of Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts, and Parks program reveals:


    • Applicants spent $160 million in Salt Lake County
    • 6.9 million SLCo residents served
    • 2.6 million SLCo residents received free admission
    • 13,592 events provided
    • 36,244 volunteers
    • 3,805 full and part-time jobs


Snapshot: Department of Heritage and Arts

Department of Heritage and Arts (DHA) and its six divisions are a vital force in the arts & humanities sector and as such, we’d like bring a little attention to its numbers. The state provides grants to cultural nonprofits through DHA’s six divisions.


The graph below shows DHA’s overall budget.





    • Their Fiscal Year (FY) 18 budget is $28,846,400
    • DHA owns 1.8 million artifacts that are valued at $125 million
    • 5,900 4th-12th grade students participate in Utah History Day, organized by Division of State History
    • 4,100 high school students participated in Poetry Out Loud, a program of Utah Division of Arts & Museums
    • 31,000+ patrons of Division of State Libraries’ bookmobile served 13 counties, circulated 420,824 items, and traveled over 100,000 miles
    • Other youth competitions include Senate Visual Arts (occurs at Arts Day on the Hill), Indigenous Day essays, Summer Reading Program, Summer of Service
    • Division of State History processed a record 107 state tax credit applications, leveraging private investments of $9 million toward improving historic residential buildings, creating higher property values and improved livability. The average project cost was nearly $84,000
    • Conferences: History (600+ attendees), Mountain West Arts Conference (500+ attendees), and the Governor’s Native American Summit (500+ attendees)
    • Division of State Libraries had 1.5 million digital book downloads
    • Over 900 attendees at the June Jubilee at Chase Museum, a program of Utah Division of Arts & Museums
    • Division of State Libraries is home to the largest braille collection in the world, which circulated 311,851 serving 19 states
    • The Uintah basin folk life survey, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and organized by Division of Arts & Museums, interviewed 17 folk artists and documented 4 community events
    • Over 124,000 individual archaeological site forms can now be accessed online, thanks to Division of State History.
    • Division of Arts & Museums Public Art Program either began, continued or completed 17 projects and maintained more than 250 existing installations.
    • And important to respecting Utah’s first residents, Division of State History provided trainings for 40 law enforcement officials on human remains discovery procedures. 


What’s needed: While Utah’s history, arts, and culture are preserved in that collection of 1.8 million artifacts collectively valued at $125 million, these pieces of fine art and historic artifacts but their current storage options puts them at significant risk. The current facility is a concerted vegetable warehouse and the basement of the Rio Grande Depot. Neither locations have adequate climate controls, seismic protections, or efficient workspaces. Utah Department of Heritage and Arts is in significant need of a new collections management facility.




Cultural Tourism

Let’s look at the economic impact of cultural tourism through three case studies, all of which are UCA members.  



Utah Shakespeare Festival’s economic impact:

    • Total impact: $35M annually
    • Direct spending: $16.9M
    • Indirect: $18.6M
    • 85% of audience drives more than 75  miles 





Once small, Sundance Film Festival is now a major attraction bringing in thousands of nation wide and international visitors. The festival’s 2017 economic impact was significant:

    • Economic activity of $151.5 million 
    • 71,638 attendees; 48% locals, 52% out of  staters
    • 14.5% of attendees work in the film industry
    • 2,778 jobs
    • $14 million in state and local tax revenue
    • Out of state attendees spend $3,287 on average 
    • $ spent on lodging: $53,9 million



Snapshot: Investments in Cultural Infrastructure

2016 & 2017 were great years for capital investment in the cultural sector. Many of the projects list below represent significant partnerships between the public and cultural sectors.


  • Beverly Taylor Sorenson performing arts complex in Cedar City + Southern Utah Museum of Art // July 2016
  • Hale Centre Theatre - Sandy // Fall 2017
  • Capitol Theatre renovation 
  • Eccles Theatre // Fall 2016
  • Taylorsville Performing Arts Center (in progress)
  • Midvale Performing Art Center (renovation)
  • Utah Cultural Celebration Center remodel // finished 2017
  • Daynes Concert Hall at Utah State University // Oct 2017
  • Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Fine Arts at Utah State University
  • Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning building at the University of Utah (a teacher training complex)
  • Utah Museums of Fine Arts renovation // July 2017
  • Spy Hop’s new facility (in progress)
  • Utah Theatre remodeled in Logan (home of Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre) // June 2016 
  • Library Square rejuvenation project in SLC (in progress)
  • Park City / Summit County Cultural District (in progress)
  • Murray Cultural Arts new amphitheater // 2017







Individual Snapshots

Utah Cultural Alliance represents some 300 organizations, businesses, and individuals working in the arts & humanities. Above, we’ve spelled out the collective impact of this sector in the state. We are often asked by municipal electeds if there are upcoming organizations that could be cultural tourist drivers on the level of a Sundance or Shakespeare Festival. Absolutely. A few of our favorites are Fringe, Moab Music Festival, Utah Festival Opera, Deer Valley Music Festival, Escalante Canyons Art Festival, and the Gina Bachauer Piano Foundation/International Competition, which is one of the most prestigious classical piano competitions in the world.


Following are some snapshots of a few of our members, many of which are significant economic and tourism drivers. Some of them are large organizations, some of them are small. All of them are important contributors to the $3.5 billion in earnings contributed to Utah by the cultural sector.


Brigham City Fine Arts Center 


The mission at the Fine Arts Center in Brigham City is to "Empower Lives through the Arts".  Initiated in 1999, this center   offers teens positive activities and helps them develop increased self-esteem and appreciation for community as well as various arts skills. Their donated  facility sees over 10,000 annual visitors. They also sponsor a World of Puppetry Museum and emphasize the ingenuity of  different cultures as well as the benefits of story telling and being creative.





KUED, the PBS station at the University of Utah, conducted 48 Ready to Learn Family Nights in English and Spanish for 10,247 low-income families at Title I schools that engage parents and children in STEM and literacy activities to encourage learning at home and help kids perform better in school. The KUED PBS Kids 24/7 Channel, launch in March, provides Utah children wherever they live and whatever their parents’ income, access to educational, trusted children’s programs the are shown by studies to increase school readiness and performance. These services are particularly important given the fact that  Utah is one of 8 states without a state-funded pre-K program and in 2014 Utah ranked 4th in child poverty in the U.S.



Lyrical Opera Theatre

This organization is community theatre, with the genre of opera. This scrappy company provides exposure and experience for local singers who aren’t interested in pursuing a professional career but still with to engage with the art form.

Their recent production of Bizet’s Carmen

    • Generated $7,500 in ticket sales with 320 people attending. 
    • Generated $513 in sales tax for the State of Utah
    • $8,000 was donated in in-kind donations
    • Paid $7,500 out to our artists.
    • The company donated 200 hours of training worth $45 per hour = $10,000 in-kind in singing and stage-craft education.





Moab ArtTrails

A collaborative effort from the start, local sculptor Michael Ford Dunton and wife, Christy Williams Dunton (a former UCA Pillars of Community award recipient) crafted the program to grow the publicly held collection of art for Moab’s urban pathways and common spaces. Thanks to civic works agreements with Grand County and Moab City, Moab ArTTrails installed 16 sculptures in downtown Moab in 2017. The works will be on display for a year, culminating in a cash award for people's choice and annual selected purchase of works for permanent placement in the community. ArtTrails is made possible the with the broad support of community members, merchants, city and county staff and a crucial network of organizational alliance from entities such as the Utah Cultural Alliance and Moab Arts Council. 

Within ArTTrails'  first months of sculptural presence on the streets of Moab, school K-12 tours have become a regular occurrence.  Impact: 

    • 27 volunteers
    • 10 artists from 5 states
    • 250 art walkers, first day alone
    • The program raised 28K in first year 


The program support for Moab’s arts and creative economy; not just because it is seen as a draw for even more tourism, but because of the qualities of life which public art  gives to Moab residents year round. 


Ogden Chamber Orchestra (OCO)

Orchestras come in all shapes and sizes. Regarding economic data, OCO take in about $7,200 in ticket income, and have $45,600 in grants for the current orchestra season through March 24.  Our budget for the season is $52,450.  Our advertising income is negligible, mostly trading with other organizations. 


Torrey House Press

A publisher of Utah authors, this organization supports 1 and 1/4 paid full-time-equivalent positions, 1 and 1/2 unpaid full-time-equivalent, and one intern. Torrey House press moderates a number of humanities discussions and author panels. 





Timpanogos Storytelling

 As an organization, Timpanogos Storytelling is a vibrant part of Utah’s arts economy. A study by a third-party firm estimated that, conservatively, the economic impact of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is over $840,000 per year, generating more than $50,000 annually in tax revenue to state and local governments. The Festival is a destination event that attracts hundreds of attendees from throughout the nation and the world. These visitors come to our state specifically to attend this event. 



Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA)

The UMFA reopened to the public Saturday, August 26, 2017 after a nineteen-month temporary closure for building upgrades and remodeling, welcoming nearly 6,000 visitors throughout Reopening Weekend. The UMFA’s remodeling project capitalized on the Museum’s comprehensive global art collection to create a more dynamic, welcoming, and inclusive visitor experience. Among the many upgrades were: 


    • Reinstallation of all permanent collection galleries
    • New dedicated galleries for African art, Chinese art, and photography
    • More modern and contemporary art on view
    • More work by women artists on view
    • More prominent first-floor location for American and regional art
    • New ACME Lab for creative experimentation, which debuted with HERE, HERE by Las Hermanas Iglesias, an interactive exhibition
    • All new object and interpretive wall texts
    • New conversation areas
    • More interactive stations
    • New sculpture terrace
    • New exterior signage


Museum educators continued their robust outreach program to community centers, libraries, and classrooms across the state, serving some 15,000 K-12 students. Additionally, The UMFA opened its first major traveling exhibition since reopening— Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West—on December 3. The exhibition features celebrated paintings, sculpture, and Native objects from one of the finest collections of western art in the nation.


Nine non-$$ ways that Cultural Businesses Give Back 

Investment from state and municipal governments yields a strong return to the state but not just in terms of money. Here are nine additional ways that the cultural sector gives back:

  • Public Safety: Communities with arts and culture organizations are seen as safer by their residents; they bring residents closer together, and the arts and humanities act as a bridge between the community and police
  • Infrastructure: Areas that are well-lit and have public art or murals attract pedestrians, bicyclists and even auto traffic, which leads to safer and more vibrant communities
  • Housing: In order for a community to be vibrant, its residents need to be able to afford to live there. Many cities in Utah work to provide affordable housing to artists and their families
  • Education: There is vast research which shows that a child with even minimal arts education performs better academically and socially than their peers
  • Health: Art therapy programs work across all health delivery platforms to provide effective health care services to both children and adults. Imagine if art therapy was part of Utah’s approach to the homeless crisis!
  • Good judgment // arts and humanities show how good judgment prevails and wow qualities interact — whether in sight or sound, prose or poetry, dance or theatre — matters
  • Perspective // Arts & humanities teach how to see and celebrate multiple perspectives; there are many ways to interpret the world
  • Gray thinking // problems can have more than one solution & questions can have more than one answer; arts and humanities embrace diversity of outcome 
  • Increase in property value // Communities with vibrant cultural offerings see increases in property value and are more attractive to new residents



Improving Our Creative Climate 


Elected officials often ask what they can do to help these upcoming possibilities become major tourist destinations. We will now discuss recommendations.


As we’ve demonstrated, Utah’s cultural businesses are currently quite healthy and are significant contributors to the strength of Utah’s economy. However good can always be better. There are many exciting and creative ways that government and cultural businesses can work together to improve the economic health of our state and to attract out of state cultural tourists. Not all of these ideas are appropriate to the state or federal level; some make more sense for municipalities. 


The ideas below are many and varied. Of all of these ideas, here are our top 5 things that government can do to increase the economic health of the cultural sector. 


#1 // More funding (grants, staff, programs) esp. for Dept. of Heritage & Arts

#2 // More Public Art & RAP programs

#3 // Maintain the State Historic Tax Credit

#4 // Lessen regulations surrounding nonprofits

#5 // Culture And



Proposed IDEAS (in alphabetical order): 


Advisory Boards

Governments at all levels can form advisory boards comprised of professionals working in the arts & humanities, local creative businesses, educators, and the broader business community to brainstorm intersections and partnerships to grow the local creative economy.


Arts, Humanities, Culture, Creative Businesses AND

The arena of “Culture AND” another sector is a hot buzz idea on a national level.

    • Culture and Transportation (Transportation American and NEA have a joint funding opportunity to help rural communities bring art into transportation projects)
    • Culture and Racial Equity
    • Culture and Social Justice (Think work around prison pipeline, immigration, street vendor codes, specifically Boyle Heights in Los Angeles)
    • Culture and the Environment
    • Culture and Health (see Therapy section)
    • Culture and Workforce Development (bringing creativity/productivity to work force, increasing work retention and attraction
    • Culture and Housing
    • Culture and Civic Engagement


Chambers of Commerce

Governments at all level can work to connect cultural businesses into the broader business community by connecting creative economy entities to the local Chamber of Commerce. Partnerships between these sectors can include:

    • Networking Events
    • Community events such as concerts, history or art fairs, and gallery crawls
    • Creative Exchanges are programs in which local arts, humanities, library, or history agencies send skilled creatives to businesses to help them imbue their business work with creative practice.


Community Development

  1. Mayors can use Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for cultural projects. CDBGs allow local government to provide seed money and/or provide an awareness building platform to benefit the local  economy. The primary idea with this philosophy is “investing” in culture, not just “giving money” to it.
  2. Cultural and/or public art master plans can connect cultural businesses into the larger economic vision of a community.
  3. There is nobody better than artists, scholars, and cultural nonprofits to bring excitement, creativity, and vibrancy to a suppressed neighborhood such as a mural, poetry project, statue, and more. Creative thinkers/artists/nonprofits are idea generators and can raise the profile of a neighborhood through ideas such as:
    • Main street programs,  get arts groups to put stuff in the vacant windows/stores. 
    • Hennepin Theatre Trust in MN has the largest popup shop program, Made Here. It’s the largest storefront initiative of its kind in the nation, in its sixth iteration filling more than 40 vacant commercial storefronts over 15 city blocks in West Downtown, Minneapolis with MN based creativity. They have produced 336 displays in the past three years featuring a minimum of 40% artists from communities of color and equal men and women. They have an advisory panel with 19 artists and arts professionals from diverse backgrounds who curate the project blind twice per year. Their application is very simplified, they do not ask for an artist statement, resume, or exhibition history.  Every selected artist is paid $500 and given professional installation assistance, professional photography, a dedicated page on our website, and a documentary short for those who are interested.
    • SLC’s greenspace program.
    • REDUCED RENT/Assistance with studio space, event space, buildings, rehearsal space, recording space etc.
    • Property tax // if you’re working to attract businesses to your community by waiving property tax, TREAT NONPROFITS THE SAME. We are job creators and economic drivers. 
    • Building cultural facilities such as the Eccles Theatres in both Logan and the new one in SLC are central core buildings in their respective downtowns. Even small scale such as the Empress Theatre in Magna or the MARC in Moab can drive the cultural soul of a town.
    • % for art programs, iconic public art can drive tourism and identity for your municipality // % for art programs can be statutory or cultural (i.e. just a policy of a municipality)
    • Art in crosswalks, signage, transportation hubs, etc.



Any level of government should include creative advisors-in-residence. This could include an artist-in-residence, a resident historian, a poet Laureate, and so much more. These residency opportunities exist to invite artists, academicians, curators, and all manner of creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide a time of reflection, research, presentation, production, and immersion into a new culture, immersed in that municipality or government. They often allow an individual to explore their practice within another community; meeting new people, using new materials, experiencing life in a new location and potentially integrating elements of that experience into their output. In addition to creating new works of art or scholarship, creatives-in-residence within non-arts state or municipal departments can participate in creative thinking and solution building to help that entity of government think outside the box.


 Cultural & Historic Districts

  • Municipal governments can create Cultural Districts - with or without tax incentives.  
  • Governments may fund these via with bed or tourism taxes within the Cultural District boundaries, but it can be done within existing municipal budgets and can just be a name designation without adding money to advertise or develop the district.
  • Great examples: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, and South Carolina
  • Utah could deregulate the rules surrounding the creation of historic districts. As heritage sites are a tourist draw, changes could be made to deregulate historic districts.


Local Arts, History, and Humanities Agencies

These entities are either private community organizations or local government agencies that integrate different factors of culture into the daily fabric of their communities and work to advance culture locally. Some of them grant money to cultural nonprofits in their municipality, some offer cultural programming including public art programs.



  • Nonprofits need help to reach financial sustainability. Municipalities that help nonprofits reach financial sustainability attract more cultural businesses to their town and thereby benefit their local economy.
  • Increase unrestricted funds: there is significant funding for programs and special projects; it is hard to find funding to cover general expenses, employee salaries, and marketing dollars. It’s hard to keep the lights on if a nonprofit’s primary source of revenue is restricted dollars that can’t cover items such as rent and utilities.
  • For-profit cultural businesses such as individual artists and galleries have a hard time finding start up investments. They also have a hard time finding affordable studio and office space.
  • New possible sources of funding: 
    • Increasing granting budgets of state or regional arts councils, or at least staying even with inflation
    • RAP-type taxes, including statewide
    • Bed/tourism taxes
    • Bonds



  • Healthcare is a big issue. It is difficult for small cultural businesses (for profit or nonprofit) to secure healthcare for their employees.
  • Be the facilitator between cultural entities and hospitals/providers. Help subsidize plans, make connections for them, etc. 
  • Additionally, this is especially difficult for individual artists who are often self-employed and have difficult getting coverage, even with the new exchange.
  • Many individual artists and scholars fall within the medicaid coverage gap. Expansion would benefit them. 


Integrate Cultural Staff in Executive Leadership

  • Executive branches at all level of governments can include a cabinet level arts and culture advisor, i.e. Boston & Philadelphia, Moab just added one. SLC used to have a cabinet level cultural position, now it’s a Senior Advisor role, still important
  • Recently Kansas City, MO added a city level director – there are a number of examples across the country.




Maintain or Grow the State Historic Tax Credit

As Utah takes a close look at state taxes and credits, we ask the legislature to maintain the state historic tax credit. This credit is a vital incentive to preserve our rich cultural history through our buildings.


Regulations & Taxes

Cultural businesses, especially nonprofits, are highly regulated in the state of Utah. While transparency and reporting is necessary whenever public funds are involved, nonprofits within UT are asked to do far more reporting than are for-profits who receive legislative appropriations. The health of Utah’s cultural businesses could improve with decreased regulation or at least equal regulation. We hope that government at all levels will work to reduce regulations effecting cultural businesses. 


Surprisingly, some nonprofits are required to pay taxes. We are seeing increasing numbers of cultural businesses who own property that are denied property tax exemption because the property generates earned income. Mission related-earned income is an essential part of healthy nonprofits. If that income isn’t taxed, why is the property?


“The country is so wounded, bleeding, and hurt right now. The country needs to be healed—it's not going to be healed from the top, politically. How are we going to heal? Art is the healing force.” Robert Redford, National Arts Policy Roundtable 2012. The same is true for the humanities. Arts and humanities therapy have proven to positively impact a number of health issues and physical ailments including mental health, addiction, heart disease, and more. Research shows that creative therapy:


    • Reduced lengths of hospital stays
    • Decreased need for multiple medical visits
    • Reduced reports of pain and anxiety related to illness and invasive treatment
    • Increased self-esteem and reductions in stress
    • Reduced healthcare-related infection rates
    • Decreased need for use of sedatives during medical procedures
    • Reduced levels of depression and improvements in quality of life
    • Decreased use of medical interventions covered by Medicare among the aging


Governments at all levels can promote creative therapy programs through funding, connecting healthcare providers with cultural businesses, and more. Imagine the impact that creative therapy programs could have on Utah’s burgeoning homeless and opioid crises. 



  • Municipalities can facilitate partnership between  cultural organizations and the local tourism sector to boost the local economy
  • Independent artists have a very difficult time getting the word out about their art, particularly outside the region in which they live. Municipalities that help build buzz around their individual artists will attract more artists to their community.
  • Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City is a great example, they are a primary source of tourism to their community
  • Partnerships can include Marketing $ for out-of-state or out-of-region advertising, helping connect cultural organizations with conventions and hotels/concierges, helping them get in brochure displays, including cultural offerings in your municipalities own advertising for what makes it a great community, etc.







Utah is a great place to live and work, in large part because of it’s vibrant cultural community. Indeed, Utah is also a friendly environment that fosters healthy cultural businesses. While there is always room for improvement, the Utah Cultural Alliance is proud to see so many successful cultural businesses thrive in this State in 2017.