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Utah, It’s More Than Just a Pretty Picture

Utah has a deep connection with arts and culture. It’s embedded in our heritage.

We are home to the nation’s oldest state arts agency, founded in 1899. The images of art that you see in this publication are examples of Utah’s preeminent artists and are a part of the 114-year-old Utah Fine Art Collection. They are just a taste of Utah’s rich and diverse history and culture.

But it’s more than just a pretty picture. Allow me to paint you a portrait of our healthy and vibrant creative and cultural economy. Utah’s creative sector contributes an estimated $184 million in economic activity annually and generates 45,582 jobs. Some of our largest arts organizations include the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival and the internationally recognized Sundance Film Festival. Last year our museums had over 6 million visitors.

A healthy creative sector matters to adults as well as children. Utah tops the nation in the number of children’s books checked out at libraries. About 15 years ago, one of our school districts was struggling with a graduation rate of 37% among Native American Students. By incorporating culture and arts as a focus, today the Nebo School District has an impressive 92% graduation rate.

A spirit of service to others is also part of Utah’s economy. For seven years in a row Utah has topped the nation in volunteerism, with over 44% of Utah residents volunteering their time to their community annually. This has contributed an estimated $3.8 billion to Utah’s economy.

Preserving our past has also been a part of Utah’s culture. We provide tax credits to residents and businesses that maintain and preserve historic buildings. This adds an extra 1,000 jobs annually to Utah’s economy and fosters professions that focus on historic restoration that bring more revenue into the state. The Department of Heritage & Arts has also focused on digitizing historic photos, manuscripts, archaeological records and more with the goal of ensuring that our past is preserved and made available to the public. We support and maintain databases of over 600,000 images and manuscripts to the public, including businesses such as publishers, historic researchers, natural resource developers and conservationists.

We hope you enjoy this snapshot of our wonderful state.