Keep Artways Alive 

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I recently moved to Salt Lake City on a trial basis. When I told friends we were moving here, they asked, “Why would you move to such a cultural desert?”

Of course, I found this city to be overflowing with cultural perks. Indeed, Salt Lake City funds a youth arts program that reaches the unreachable, including the homeless and refugees. At least, it currently does but will only continue to do so if the Salt Lake City Council rejects Mayor Ralph Becker’s proposed budget cut of YouthCity Artways.

I know that a youth art program funded by a city is unusual, which makes it easy to bring it to the chopping block when budget cuts are necessary. However, it is exactly this uniqueness that makes me want to stay in Salt Lake City; funding YouthCity Artways shows our city’s foresight in enabling and empowering our youth to love the arts. They are our future art community. Taught young, these city residents will carry their love for the arts to adulthood and multiply the city’s investment.

And speaking of investments, $350,000 represents an incredibly lean annual budget. I’ve worked for nonprofits with triple the budget that didn’t do a quarter of what YouthCity Artways accomplishes.

In his proposal, Becker suggests dispersing $75,000 to similar organizations. However, in researching replacements for my son’s music class, I’ve found that there are no organizations doing what YouthCity Artways does. That’s why it was created—to bridge the gap between programs targeted at the wealthy and programs affordable to all. YouthCity Artways stands alone in terms of scope (from bookbinding to documentary filmmaking) and reach (at one site alone, a sizeable number of participants are homeless).

But how would the mayor know this information, considering he reportedly didn’t contact the program representative before suggesting it be cut?

Surely this great city won’t be so shortsighted as to cut such a hard-working program without first looking into alternatives for keeping it alive.

Turia Pope
Salt Lake City

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