City-county partnership aims to unite, promote downtown arts offerings

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Lia Summers, senior adviser for arts and culture in the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, talks about the Cultural Core following a press conference in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 31, 2017.

SALT LAKE CITY — For years, Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City leaders have discussed the best way to unite the various arts and cultural activities downtown.

Cue the creation of the Cultural Core Action Plan. In 2010, the city and county agreed to set aside sales tax revenue from the area bordered by South Temple, 400 South, 200 West and 200 East, including City Creek Center.

The money was to be used for marketing, branding and developing the “cultural core” in the downtown area. The hope was to bring the isolated arts events together into one grand downtown experience.

Now, after six years of planning and gradually collecting funding, Mayors Jackie Biskupski and Ben McAdams have announced that the joint project will be spearheaded by Downtown SLC Presents.

“We must ensure the arts and culture are promoted, protected and are accessible to all people,” Biskupski, Salt Lake City’s mayor, said at a news conference Monday.

Downtown SLC Presents is a subsidiary of Downtown SLC Alliance. The organization heads several signature projects, including the Downtown Art and Craft Market, the holiday-themed Jingle Bus and the EVE WinterFest.

“I’m so proud to be part of a community and work for an organization that values the arts and understands that it improves quality of life and brings a positive economic impact,” said Kristen Beck, managing director of Downtown SLC Presents and Cultural Core executive director.

The first step, Beck said, is to hire an artistic director to lead the Cultural Core plan and leverage the downtown arts and culture in creative place-making.

“That holistic experience downtown, that’s what we’re looking for, and the creativity to build it,” she said.

Since the Cultural Core was…

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