Elizabeth Weight // Democrat // Utah House District 31 (A+)
How have the arts, culture, and/or humanities impacted your life?
- Growing up in Utah, I had instruction, opportunity, and encouragement to understand and participate in arts. Art of all kinds was part of the culture. To me, that appreciation and encouragement are still part of the Utah identity. I participated in music programs, beginning in elementary school, and I started college on a music scholarship. As a professional musician and instructor for a short time, I recognized that, even when art is not a professional pursuit, art appreciation has a huge effect in the economics of our communities as well as enriching them in social and emotional ways. During my 32-year career as a language arts teacher, I observed this as well as the natural inclination everyone has toward artistic expression. Even language acquisition, in which I earned a Master’s Degree, I understand as individual cultural development. It isn't a matter of instruction or encouragement like I had. It's part of being human that we seek creative expression and find meaning in understanding it. The effects in my life these days are the pleasure and satisfaction I experience in writing, drawing, needlework, music, and theater. But I am also an observer of those types of meaningfulness in the lives of others. I’m excited that, as our state education leaders emphasize social-emotional elements as a vital foundation for learning, we see another area of significance and need for support of humanities in our public policy making. The impact of arts, culture, and humanities in my life now extends far beyond my personal involvement; I am fascinated by the necessity of art and humanities in our lives and want to see everyone have opportunities and access to them.
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:
- It means that elected officials understand and appreciate arts and humanities as more than an individual opportunity or privilege, that they acknowledge the fundamental community identity and cohesion that come from art, that they recognize and are willing to make it a point of leadership and civics education that arts are an infrastructure of a healthy community.
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?
- I am impressed and grateful for the educational and thought-provoking nature of this questionnaire. I realize I forgot to include among my personal experiences that I participated for years in programs that supported professional music performance-demonstrations in schools (Young Audience Program) and rural communities (former Rural Arts Consortium). Truly, the work to educate elected officials and the public and to promote the arts and humanities in Utah is a matter of preserving our identity and part of our self-worth in these days of the imbalanced emphasis on capitalism.
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