The Utah Symphony, while a glittering jewel in the state's cultural crown, is like most other arts organizations, living an often precarious hand-to-mouth existence, with income never quite keeping up with costs. That's why a generous gift like the $1 million donation to the orchestra from the O.C. Tanner Co. is such a welcome and meaningful gesture. It will touch lives in the music community for years to come.
One measurement of Obert C. and Grace Tanner's public-spirited contribution can be seen in the fact that it is one of the largest private gifts in the orchestra's history. But it is more than that. It enriches thousands of Utahns in a cultural sense.The gift will have a financial impact beyond the original $1 million because it will enable the Utah Symphony to receive a matching grant of $368,000 from the Utah Arts Council. Of that combined money, $1 million will go into the donor-restricted endowment fund, meaning that only the dividend and interest money can be used to support the orchestra, which has an annual operating budget of about $7 million.
The balance of the money will be used for other, as yet undecided, purposes. But there is plenty of need on all sides, since a steady shortfall of operating funds has run up an accumulated debt of $2.4 million in recent years. No matter how the money is used, the Tanner donation provides much-needed help for the symphony.
Such a generous gift from the Tanners is no surprise. They have been supporters of the arts and backers of the good and beautiful for many decades. Many profits from the O.C. Tanner Co. jewelry business have been reinvested in the community.
Over the years, the Tanners have built 40 artistic and eye-catching water fountains at universities, hospitals and other buildings. They have donated to hospitals and the arts on many levels. They have sponsored symphony concerts and were a significant factor in raising funds for the construction of Symphony Hall.
It has been said that wealth is a sacred trust. Obert and Grace Tanner are examples of that ideal in their support and encouragement of music and beauty and for other good works that are less well known. Utah is fortunate to have them as citizens.