ZAP tax funding keeps small arts groups going
It's not much money, just $11,370. But because of it, the Mundi Project can bring classical piano music to Salt Lake City elementary school students again next year.
The organization co-founded by Hana Janatova is one of 143 arts groups that will divide roughly $1.64 million in Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) tax funds collected and distributed by Salt Lake County.
These Tier II groups, as they are known, "touch the lives of millions, from the very small with budgets of $5,000 up to groups with $4.2 million budgets, from organizations run by volunteers to professionally managed groups," said Victoria Bourns, who runs the ZAP program.
Although exact allocations could go up or down in the next year if ZAP tax revenues vary wildly from current projections, the average allocation to these groups in 2013 will be about $11,500.
For operations such as the Mundi (pronounced Moon-dee) Project, that money "is crucial to our programs being able to operate. It enables us to function," said Janatova.
A piano teacher by training, she saw a need six years ago to expose young students, especially those in poorer Title I schools, to the piano.
Mundi established an "Ambassador Piano Project," which provides workshops for youngsters who have displayed musical skills and stages a couple of concerts annually at city schools.
"Kids have the opportunity to perform on class-one pianos, the kind of instruments you'd see at Abravanel Hall," said Janatova, "but at schools where the poverty rate is 98 percent."
The multidisciplinary concerts also feature visual arts, dance and poetry. The intention is to provide students with "an integrated education through artistic creativity," she added, proudly noting that a dozen volunteers help run Mundi Project activities.
While Tier II funding allocations range from almost $70,000 for the Sundance Institute to $875 for StageRight Theater Co. and the nonprofit group Salt Lake American Muslim, almost 30 organizations receive the average allotment, give or take a couple of thousand dollars.
Many of these are arts councils from the valley's smaller cities, from Riverton and Herriman to Midvale and Taylorsville. But there are other groups which, like the Mundi Project, bring different forms of art to the public.
Friends of Gilgal Garden will receive $11,808 next year to better enable people to enjoy the 12 sculptures that Thomas Child produced between 1945 and 1963 along with 70 engraved stones on display at 749 E. 500 South.
An allocation of $10,496 will help the 32-year-old Dance Theater Coalition to provide presentation and exhibition opportunities to artists in a variety of contemporary mediums.
"Though our formative roots were in dance-theater works," said development Director Roxanne Rogers, "we are a multidisciplinary arts organization so we have a broad range of creative interests that span visual art, performance and film."
Most of the 143 recipients sought more money than they got. Requests totaled $2.7 million, but revenue projections provided to the county's Tier II advisory board suggested closer to $1.64 million will be available, said Chairwoman Tamera Burnside.
Odyssey Dance Theatre, for one, was not satisfied with its allocation almost $35,000 and initially appealed to the County Council to increase its portion. But the council decided not to hear the appeal, supporting the decision rendered by advisory board members after months of deliberations.
Still, like Janatova, most recipients are appreciative for what they get. "I hope ZAP gets reapproved when it comes up again [before voters] in a few years," she said. "For a small organization like ours, this money is huge â¦ keeps us in existence."
That's just the kind of testimonial County Council members appreciate hearing.
"I'm thankful we live in a community that can do this," said Councilman Jim Bradley.
Added his colleague, Randy Horiuchi: "This really is the money that gets into the hands of people who are interested in the community. To me, it's one of the great things about ZAP. It's why people voted ZAP in."
The full list
O For a complete listing of Tier II recipients of Salt Lake County ZAP (Zoo, Arts and Parks) tax revenues, go to http://bit.ly/V7LMdS.