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Arts Day at the State Capitol brings music, dance and opera to lawmakers


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SALT LAKE CITY — Music, dance and opera.

All of which occurred at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

Arts Day at the Utah Legislature added a distinctly different atmosphere to the proceedings. There was a definite air of excitement at the State Capitol, as hundreds of art students and art advocates literally brought their talents to the State Legislature.

A cast of kids in bright colors sang, "We Are In a Little Village." Fourth graders from North Park Elementary of Box Elder School District performed an opera they wrote. They also made their costumes and created the scenery.

Advocates say this kind of appeal makes sense because the state has a history of supporting the arts.

"We had the very first arts council in the nation," said Gay Cookson, the director of the Utah Arts Council. "We had 50,000 people employed in creative industries. We have millions of dollars contributing to the Utah economy through the arts. I think that's the message that everybody can embrace."

"I love art and architecture, " said Christopher Gustman, a senior at Timpanogos High School.

The Utah State Senate awarded Gustman first place and $5,000 in its visual arts scholarship competition for his striking painting of the State Capitol at night.

"This scholarship money is going to really help me with tuition," Gustman said. "I'm going to go to the U. of U., so this will take care of a good portion of my first semester of college."

Not every child will become a professional artist, but leaders of the state's arts organizations say filling theater seats is equally important.

"If we don't continue to educate young people about the importance of the arts, we don't have future audiences and supporters and people that will give to the arts," said R. Scott Phillips, the Executive Director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

The legislature has only so much money, but some members of the House and Senate say today creates a visual awareness of the value of arts support.

"I actually do think it makes a big impact because it helps us better understand the needs that some of us just haven't always seen," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, House Democratic Caucus Leader. "It's important for legislators to understand all the things the arts do for communities — for our schools, for education, for economic development and tourism. And just for our quality of life."

Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, also believes in the importance of the arts.

"Sometimes, we get too caught up in policies and other things, and it's really nice to be reminded that the arts play such an important part in our life — especially in Iron County and Cedar City, where I live," said Vickers. "The arts are such an integral part of everyday life."

Many wore buttons that said 'Yes to Arts', a united plea from arts organizations and young artists throughout the state who are simply asking the legislators to continue funding what they love.

From the balcony above the Capitol Rotunda, a group of art students shouted, "Happy Arts Day!"

From their lips to lawmakers' ears.

A different and much appreciated day at the State Capitol.

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas


Carole Mikita


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