Salt Lake City mayor calls downtown’s ‘cultural core’ a gem in the Intermountain West

Group will promote arts and culture as a draw to downtown.

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune Numerous downtown art installations have been erected to attract tourism and engagement to the heart of Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City hopes it can turn its downtown core into a hub for arts and culture events that will attract visitors from far and wide.

Seven years after a partnership between the city and Salt Lake County was created, the groups announced on Monday that they had chosen Downtown Salt Lake City Presents, an offshoot of Downtown Alliance, to manage the effort.

Mayor Jackie Biskupski called the area — east of 600 West to 400 East and south of North Temple to 400 South — the cultural gem of the region that the entire state will benefit from.

"Arts are a critical piece to the success of our city," Biskupski said at a news conference unveiling the leading group. "Without question, Salt Lake City is the cultural core of not only Utah, but of the Intermountain West."

The city and county created a special taxing district that directs a portion of the money raised over the next 20 years to the cultural core — which includes City Creek Center — back into the area for arts.

"We know the arts improve our economy," Biskupski said. "Our local business owners in Salt Lake City have let us know it is their No. 1 reason why they stay in Salt Lake City."

The groups have been working since the inception of the program in 2010 to study how to create arts "corridors" in the downtown area that would attract visitors.

The tax boundaries are different from the cultural core boundaries. The boundaries for money raised don't include the Gateway mall, and they comprise the area between 200 West and 200 East. The tax boundaries begin at South Temple and run to 400 South, while the cultural core includes North Temple.

The city and county agreed to cap the revenue used for the program at a total of $500,000 annually.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams called the area a "canvas" and added, "What we do here will create a wonderful experience for the entire region."

Downtown Salt Lake City Presents announced Monday that it was searching for an artistic director to help with the effort.