Aaron Starks // Republican // Utah House District 42
How have the arts, culture, and/or humanities impacted your life?
- My family and I have lived abroad and experienced the richness a foreign culture provides. It can challenge your personal views, refine your understanding of life, and keep you grounded. Personally, I collect art from Southeast Asia where I like to meet with local artisans and watch them paint, build, and design. We recently bought a beautiful painting of a volcano outside Jakarta, Indonesia. Most important to us, is the memories associated with the art we buy - we love to talk about and remember the people we meet on our trips. Our family culture has been shaped by the cultures, customs, and traditions of many ethnicity. Culture and the learning associated with it, has helped us connect more, and understand those who are different from us. As a Father, I believe this is essential for my children. It is critical for me, as I work with our teams in 20 countries around the world.
Utah's humanities and arts employ 123,000 Utahns, provide $4.4 billion in earnings, and $13.2 billion in sales. This is a larger economic impact than agriculture, mining, and real estate. Do you consider the arts and cultural sector an economic driver in Utah?
Fiscally responsible government investment in the arts and humanities (including humanities and arts education) means to me:
- People come to Utah to experience our culture, brand, and lifestyle. We have great culture here and I believe it is paramount for us to share it with the world around. I support investments in the arts and humanities, as it compliments the tourism effort we already have, helps stimulate the economy, and is important for us in preserving our heritage. As some believe, and so do I, Utah will become the crossroads of the world - we must be able to tell our story and invite others to be part of it.
I support the following legislative items:
- Grants to be used for operations (jobs) as soon as possible
- Keeping emergency loans open to nonprofits
- Protecting the RAP taxes so that money granted to cultural organizations doesn't get repurposed
- Increasing availability of loans to cultural businesses (non-profit and for-profit)
- Fiscally responsible government investment in arts and humanities organizations.
- Development of cultural districts
- Facilitating partnerships between tourism and culture.
- Reducing regulations of creative businesses.
- Capital investment (in museums, performance/concert halls, studios, galleries, nonprofit office space, etc.).
- Percent for public art programs, which optionally designate 1% of government capital costs for public art
- Allowing municipalities to set design standards
- K-6 Students should have increased exposure to arts and humanities education
- 7-12 Students should have increased exposure to arts and humanities education
- I support the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program which puts one arts specialist in most elementary schools
- I support the POPS (Professional Outreach Program in the Schools) which sends 13 professional arts organizations to all UT school districts
- I support the iSEE (Informal Science Educational Enhancement) which sends 10 professional science, zoological, and natural history organizations to all UT school districts
Anything else we should know about you?
- At the conclusion of compulsory education for children, the real question we have to answer is, "are our children ready for life?". In the long-run, academics only take a person so far. People, and an understanding of cultural norms, history, and expression of thought is what makes people successful". Our organization teaches these skills and principles - I believe in this cause and will help others see value in it too as a legislator.
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