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

  • Candidate Name: Chris Wharton
  • 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?

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

3b // Optional, explain your experience.
As a child, I benefited greatly from being exposed to different types of art in Utah public schools including visual arts, music, and theatre. Those programs expanded my worldview and helped shape me as a person. I have a humanities undergraduate degree that has been a cornerstone of my academic and professional career. I can think of countless personal experiences with arts, culture, and humanities that continue to impact my daily life.

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?

3b // Optional, explain why or why not.
I believe funding local arts organizations and community art projects is crucial to maintaining a vibrant and thriving city. Through their sponsorships, the Salt Lake City Arts Council has helped make Salt Lake City an
arts and cultural hub for the state and the region.

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.

4b // Optional, explain why or why not.
Yes, public art is as essential to public buildings and open public spaces.

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

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

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

6b // Optional, explain why or why not.
The arts and cultural sector is a significant economic driver in Utah, particularly in Salt Lake City. Studies show that Utahns consistently support arts organizations and cultural events at higher rates compared to other states. The arts and cultural scene in Salt Lake City is particularly important because our capital city is not only the center of government and commerce, but it is also an artistic and cultural center of the state. Reports done by the Downtown Alliance consistently show that people from all over the state come to Salt Lake City for arts and cultural experiences that are not available in other parts of the state.

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.

7b // Optional, explain your experience.

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. 

8b // Optional, explain why or why not. 
A huge part of Utah’s economy is dependent on tourism and hospitality. I strongly believe that arts and culture are inextricably linked to the success of those industries.

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?

9b // Optional, explain why or why not. 
Yes, I have looked into proposals to create a cultural core in Salt Lake City similar to those in Denver, San Diego, and Long Beach. Those projects have been extremely successful for those cities and there is no reason why we should not have the same type of vibrant and diverse area right here in Salt Lake City.

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