Utah Cultural Advocacy Alliance Grade: B+ (87.50%)

  • Candidate Name: Harris Sondak
  • Your Municipality: Alta
  • Elected office for which you are running: Mayor

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.
I studied philosophy as an undergraduate and as a phd student and it had profound effects on me. I am an art collector and enthusiast. In my work as a professor at the University of Utah I study how aesthetic judgments are part of managerial decision making. I lead our initiative on business and liberal education. I am on the Honors Advisory Counsel at the U and support interdisciplinary learning by all of our students.

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.
Sure, in the sense that I support humanities and arts activities in our community. I am not sure what the best (more effective, most efficient) mechanisms for doing so are.

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.
I don't know that the specific 1% requirement is the right amount or the right mechanism. But I do agree that public buildings should be places for public art. I have been in contact with our local arts group (Alta Community Enrichment) about creating a public arts program.

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

5b // Optional, explain why or why not.
We don't have much in the way of public buildings here in Alta but I support public art for sure. Again,

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

6b // Optional, explain why or why not.
Obviously arts and culture are drivers of economic vitality; there is no doubt about this fact. Look at how this works in various cities around the world! Locally, UMOCA is an important asset to the community, as are, for example, Ballet West, the Utah Symphony and Opera, Pioneer Theater, the Sundance Festival, etc. Certainly people come to visit for these events. I would include the LDS facilities downtown as cultural assets in our community.

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.
We are part of ZAP via our property taxes; in principle I'd be happy for local revenues to go directly to arts -- however, as a resort town we depend on sales tax and have maxed out our ability to charge sales tax

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. 

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. 
My town is very small, so I am not sure this applies. It seems to me the whole community ought to be a cultural district.