The financially strapped Tuacahn Center for the Arts in southern Utah would receive $50,000 to teach elementary-school students about music and art if a bill proposed by a southern Utah lawmaker passes.

The funding is included in a bill sponsored by Sen. Lorin Jones, R-Veyo, and unanimously endorsed by the Senate Energy, Natural Resources and Agriculture this morning. The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.The Legislature appropriated the same amount of money last year to provide music education to Washington County elementary schools. More than 1,917 students participated and some 20,533 hours were put into the program, Jones said.

"That's $2 an hour, so it looks like a good investment," Jones told the committee.

The money would pay for staff from the Tuacahn Center to teach students at Santa Clara, Dixie Downs, Sunset, Bloomington, Panorama, East, West and Bloomington Hill elementary schools.

Jones said the one-year appropriation would be provided to Tuacahn through the state Department of Community and Economic Development just in case the center closes its doors and cannot provide the program.

Last fall, the Tuacahn Center for the Arts near Ivins was $13 million in debt. The outdoor amphitheater is located in a red rock canyon about 10 miles northwest of St. George. Insufficient cost controls during construction left the $22 million project in debt from the beginning.