SLC Arts on a Budget | City Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly

SLC Arts on a Budget 

Living Salt Lake City’s cultured life on a shoestring is within reach.

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Even with people continuing to tighten their belts as they prepare for what seems to be a long, slow economic recovery, Salt Lake City residents can take comfort and be uplifted with this robust list of arts activities that are not only reasonably priced but, in some cases, absolutely free! Utah prides itself on its tradition of fostering arts, education and cultural celebrations. Here are 10 opportunities to experience some of the city’s best cultural, artistic and scientific offerings on next to nothing.

Utah Cultural Celebration Center
As one of Utah’s premier destinations for arts and cultural events, UCCC’s mission, since 2003, is to preserve and perpetuate local cultural traditions and provide a home for local arts and artists. UCCC promotes gallery exhibitions, festivals, concerts, workshops and social and nonprofit events—and all UCCC-sponsored events are free and open to the public. However, take note that other organizations that rent the facility may charge a modest fee for their programs. The center has already presented several hundred free events to the public, most recently including Art For the Soul and Water. 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City

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Salt Lake Gallery Stroll
The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll’s mission is to promote and provide access to the expression, appreciation and understanding of the visual arts in Salt Lake City, and to increase the reputation of Utah artists and art organizations. Created in 1983 as a small consortium of fine art galleries, today it encompasses the majority of the galleries in Salt Lake City. On the third Friday of each month—except December, when it’s the first Friday—galleries stay open until 9 p.m., providing an opportunity to tour exhibits after hours. Various locations,

The Gallivan Center
The John W. Gallivan Utah Center is versatile, to say the least. Currently undergoing a major renovation, it houses several large, permanent art displays, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. A number of events held here are free, including the Lunch Bunch summer concert series and Friday Night Flicks, as well as many exhibits, fairs, performances, parades, festivals and holiday celebrations. The Gallivan Center’s goal is to produce and promote the highest quality of artistic, educational, recreational and entertainment programs in Salt Lake City. 239 S. Main, 801-535-6110,

University of Utah School of Music
Besides striving to provide a superior education to its students, the U’s School of Music is committed to serving the art of music and furthering the reputation of the school through performance, composition, research and publication. Its students and faculty participate in various festivals, conferences, competitions and recordings, many of which are free to the public. To find upcoming concerts, go to Music.Utah.Edu and click on “Concert Calendar.” David P. Gardner Hall, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, University of Utah, 801-581-6762, Music.Utah.Edu

Clark Planetarium
Many of the exhibits at Clark Planetarium, tucked in the middle of The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City, are free to the public. Permanent exhibits are paired nicely with various IMAX and dome-theater films (there is a charge for movies) and a unique gift shop featuring telescopes, toys and gadgets for lovers of outer space. Though the planetarium does an amazing job providing educational enrichment opportunities for school groups, its exhibits are also appropriate for adults. Concepts covered in the exhibits include the history of rockets, how telescopes work, the next generation of space exploration, a meteorite collection, and an audio-kinetic sculpture by renowned artist and sculptor George Rhoads. 110 S. 400 West, 801-456-7827,

Salt Lake City Arts Council
If visual and performing arts are your thing, the Salt Lake City Arts Council’s Website features an abundance of free arts information, including some of the most popular free seasonal events such as the Twilight Concert Series, Brown Bag Concert Series, and Guest Writers Series. The Salt Lake City Arts Council is housed in the Art Barn in Reservoir Park. Located near the University of Utah campus, the Art Barn has served as a community art center since its doors opened in the early 1930s. Its quarterly newsletter, 54 Finch Lane, provides the latest information on upcoming speakers, exhibits and performances sponsored by the SLCAC. 54 Finch Lane, 801-596-5000,

Salt Lake City Public Libraries
The six locations that make up the Salt Lake City public libraries epitomize Utah’s belief in free, public access to the arts. Whether providing the venues for lectures, exhibitions, performances or festivals, the city’s public libraries are dedicated to advancing knowledge, fostering creativity, encouraging the exchange of ideas and enhancing the quality of life for everyone. The libraries also offer classes in digital photography and ballroom dancing, as well as countless activities for families, kids and teens, and many free film screenings at the Main Library organized through the Salt Lake City Film Center. Their events calendar is easily accessed on their Website, which may be viewed while enjoying free Internet access at the library.

Locally Owned Bookstores
The city’s independently owned bookstores do more than bring books to readers. Some bring in newly published local writers as well as international icons like former president Jimmy Carter (as The King’s English recently did) offering customers the opportunity to speak directly to authors through numerous free events at the stores. Others build a love of literature through book groups, such as Sam Weller’s Hardboiled Book Club, which meets monthly. Still others host gallery strolls (Ken Sanders) and psychic fairs (Golden Braid) and one (Utah Book & Magazine) is the place to spot a ghost or watch a friendly card game on Saturday mornings (6 a.m.). All excel at bringing the literary world to Salt Lake City and building a sense of community among the literary-minded in Salt Lake City.
Golden Braid Books, 151 S. 500 East, 801-322-1162,
Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 801-521-3819,
King’s English Bookshop, 1511 S. 15th East, 801-484-9100,
Sam Weller’s Bookstore, 254 S. Main, 801-328-2586,
Utah Book & Magazine, 327 S. Main, 801-359-4391

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Jennifer Heaney

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