Utah is experiencing the second-fastest growth of artists of any state in the nation, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. Between 1990 and 2000, the Beehive State’s artist population grew by 44 percent. And these aren’t just any artists, but “working artists”—residents earning a living making Utah a better place to live. With recent years’ growth, Utah now ranks among the top half of artsy states—21st for the percentage of the population made up by working artists. The news comes as no surprise to habitués of Salt Lake City’s art galleries where talented and exciting new painters, printmakers, photographers and sculptors pop up every week. Support your local artists. Keep them working. And keep them in Utah.
Utah business leaders are sounding alarm bells about Utah’s failing health-care system. Officials from the Salt Lake Chamber recently told state lawmakers that Utah leads the nation for the number of businesses that dropped employee health-care plans during the past four years. Less than half of Utah businesses now offer health plans, an all-time low. Chamber President Lane Beattie blamed insurance costs, with premiums increasing at 10 times the rate of household income. He warned that health-care costs could sink Utah’s economy and called for radical action. Let’s hope Utah’s Legislature—which never met an insurance company it didn’t like—is up to the task.
Utah air-quality officials have set a goal for reducing the state’s output of greenhouse gasses. The target—getting Utah back to 2005 emission levels by 2020—won’t soon rid the valley of “red” day warnings signaling summer ozone levels reaching dangerous levels. But it is a start. The goal comes courtesy of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signing Utah up as one of several states pledging to fight global warming through the Western Climate Initiative—and not a minute too soon. Thanks in part to our long commutes and reliance on coal power each Utah resident is currently responsible for putting out two metric tons more gas than the national average.