“It’s no secret that the Salt Lake Valley is growing at a rapid rate, especially in the southwest areas," Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said in a recent announcement. "That’s why Taylorsville is the perfect location for the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center."
He’s right for a number of reasons.
In the first place, there is clearly a great deal of community support for the effort to build a new facility. The Performing Arts Center will be home to the Taylorsville Arts Center, which has scrambled to find venues for their productions and has been forced to house its props in a barn. Other local groups will also make use of it, and the space should be large enough to accommodate touring shows. It’s likely that the facility will be fully utilized as soon as it opens its doors, which is an event scheduled for 2020.
That’s significant because the biggest challenge facing cultural venues is often finding an audience. A community that decides it wants a theatre can waste a great deal of money in building it, only to find that nobody is willing to come. In this case, the local groups have already demonstrated the ability to attract an audience, so the performing arts center is being built to accommodate an already existing demand. That’s a critical component of the process that far too many cities overlook.
Mayor McAdams’s optimism is also justified by the positive economic benefit that this facility could accrue. The building will receive $36 million from the county’s tourism fund, and the City of Taylorsville will put in an additional $3.3 million. That’s a great deal of money that they believe will produce significant economic returns.
Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization with a stated mission to “serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America,” conducted research to measure the economic impact of the arts in local communities. They estimate that the average attendee to an arts event spends an additional $24.60 per visit on items not associated with the purchase of their tickets. This includes dinner before the show or dessert afterward, transportation, lodging, and even babysitters. Those expenses add up, and they pay people who aren’t directly involved with what’s happening up on the stage.
Of course, it’s essential that city and county leaders ensure a wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and they need to adopt best practices on how this facility will operate. At the same time, it’s encouraging to see this kind of commitment to improving the Taylorsville area, both culturally and economically.