Performing Arts a Vital Part of Utah’s Economy

Randy ShumwayUtah’s performing arts—symphonies, operas, dance, and theater—enable patrons to suspend reality for just a moment, connecting more deeply with themselves and the surrounding community.

Among the many industries that support local economies, performing arts stands out by simultaneously delivering cultural vibrancy and economic vitality.  Throughout the year, Utah’s various performing arts seasons take turns in the spotlight—drawing out-of-town visitors, selling tickets, boosting local employment, and enlivening community culture.

According to a 2015 study sponsored by Americans for the Arts, Utah is home to 7,006 arts-related businesses that employ a total of 27,210 people. Because the study only includes data from creative industries registered with a business data repository, those numbers may underestimate the actual number of arts-related businesses and jobs in the state.

Nothing illustrates the social prevalence and economic importance of performing arts in Utah quite like the opening of two new theaters: the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake City and the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. Both theaters are designed to meet the large demand for theater in Utah and enable additional large-scale performances. The community has come together to ensure the successful completion of both construction projects. The Eccles Theater was estimated to cost between $110 million and $117 million and was largely made possible through generous private donations and property taxes reserved for downtown development. Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy will cost $65 million to build and is funded via public financing and private donations. Excellent season line-ups from numerous theaters have drawn the attention of arts connoisseurs, and theaters are selling record numbers of season tickets. Hale Centre Theatre alone expects its patron numbers to double from 250,000 to 500,000.

New theaters and high ticket sales not only demonstrate Utahns’ appreciation for performing arts, but they also boost local businesses in related arts and theater construction. Further, performing arts events bring patrons to restaurants and other venues, thereby expanding community profitability. As Utahns continue to support the arts, related jobs and revenue will grow, and our communities will be enriched.