Wednesday, July 18, 2007

State Sponsored Religious Services

I think it is important for a community to support its arts. A primary means for supporting the art is communtiy festivals like the upcoming Days of 47 festivities, and I would even give the sponsoring community bands and buying art from local artists is a very good idea since it helps employ local artists.

Anyway, I was looking at the Salt Lake Twilight Concert Series. This seems like it is going a bit overboard. The stated goal of thise series is to provide a venue for "nationally and internationally acclaimed performing artists" (not local artists).

The concerts are not part of a community celebration. It is just a weekly series of late night entertainment. The mission of the program is to provide "sustenance for the body and soul." At this state sponsored event you can get body art and psychic readings. The web site'ss goal behind this event sounds more like a religious service than a community event.

The line up has some really big names like Left Over Salmon. It is not like these are groups that have difficult selling tickets. Quite frankly, the state paying for top talent makes it harder for all the little local bands to get paying gigs at local night clubs.

The events aren't overcoming a deficit of live music. Salt Lake is on a crossroads which all but guarantees that music venues will fill up with top talent.

I do everything I can to support local art. I just am not sure if providing free tickets to top international talent is the best use of taxpayer's dollars. I guess my affinity is with the artists on the outside of the political structure.


Anonymous said...

The Twilight Concert Series has been able to draw 10,000 people to the Gallivan Center in what is probably the hottest weeks of the summer. Whenever I go, I run into people I knew at school or at previous jobs. The lineup this year is particularly good and has received national attention.

Utah's insanely stupid "private club" laws are what kills the downtown night life and the local music performance venues. You can't walk into a bar, particularly a bar featuring lesser-known local bands, without paying an extra charge for a private club membership. At least 6 of the clubs listed on that link you provided are no longer in business.

Is the Days of 47 parade really a community festival? It's essentially a Mormon-only celebration of Mormon history. If anything is a state-sponsored religious service, it's a parade featuring floats from one LDS Ward after another on public streets on a state holiday.

y-intercept said...

You do bring up a good point. The state's power structure has a history of hampering the live music industry. There is a legitimate question of how one overcomes this history. It is wise for Salt Lake to fund some events to establish the tradition of Traxing it into downtown for culture. At what point does the "jumpstarting" itself undermines the local music scene?

I personally do not know where one draws the line. For one thing, the line changes with time.

You are also right about the broken links on the links page. The link page I gave you has a horrendous turn over. There is a demand for live local music, but businesses are taking hold.

You mentioned that your friends meet at the Gallivan Plaza.

The vast majority of artists I know have left Utah. People throw their hearts and souls into their art and fail to get any paying business.

BTW, I am not Mormon. Although the Days of 47 come off as Mormon Days in my book, it is still essentially a founders day style celebration.

IMHO, The combination of oppressive laws, high taxes and an excess of state funded free events ends up politicizing and impoverishing the arts.

Scott Hinrichs said...

What we have here is government restricting business so that it can't adequate meet consumer demand, and then directly competing with that business. This is a good way to kill the private arts market.