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Friday, February 6, 2009

Future Performing Arts in Daybreak

My first experience in the arts was the annual kindergarten Christmas play. I was fairly clumsy and uncomfortable in my little Christmas outfit, but my parents were ecstatic over my performance. This enthusiasm gave me pride in my performance, even though I only had one line to contribute to the script.

While theatre was not a staple in my family I did enjoy going to numerous live performances over the years including All My Sons, Annie Get your Gun, Les Miserables, and others. The importance of theater in our community is the opportunity it provides to experience the immediacy and power of live performances. The stage is a place where ideas are expressed and examined carrying our imagination to a new world.

Locally, we have seen interest in theatre realized in the Daybreak Community Theatre. This group, whose website you can visit here, has so far produced The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan.
Aristocats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and High School Musical are all slated for this season. As with any organization devoted to the arts, sponsorship and means to produce are always needed. One of the major issues with this group is a place to perform. South Jordan has been using the senior citizens center for many of the arts and desperately needs a venue for the performing arts. The need for such a facility exists, but how would we fund such a facility and where would it be located?

Salt Lake County recently released their Cultural Facilities Master Plan. This plan is based upon substantial research of demographics and market data. Does this plan have something in mind for Daybreak? Yes, The plan proposes the Daybreak Amphitheatre in Sunrise Mountain Park to be upgraded with a stage house and other improvements. This facility would accommodate outdoor performances during the warm months of the year and possibly provide limited space indoors for rehearsals and other performances. South Jordan City should be taking possession of this park sometime this year.

The Daybreak Amphitheatre will be a welcome upgrade to our community, but it does not satisfy the long-term need for a performing arts center. However, the county also announced plans to build three regional performing arts centers in the Salt Lake Valley. Apparently, the county will be able to free up some "play money" because they are finally paying off the Salt Palace expansion and will have decreasing payments for the Real Salt Lake soccer stadium. So now the question is where will they locate these performing arts centers. Of course, everyone would like a performing arts center nearby. Their obvious cultural benefits to the community are tremendous, but they also have substantial economic benefits to the community around them. One of these centers is planned to be located in the southwest corner of the salt lake valley. In my opinion I think that South Jordan should step up and vie for this amenity to be in our community.

The marketing data collected for the county indicates that South Jordan would be a decent place to site this center, but identifies other locations that are considered better markets. Herriman is listed in the report as a better prospect than South Jordan. However, when looking at the whole I think the center will ultimately be located near the town center of Daybreak.

While there are definitely other possible locations in the Southwest portion of Salt Lake County for this center, Daybreak would be a suitable location for a number of reasons. One of the best reasons is that the West Bench master plan indicates that Daybreak will be the hub for transit and major facilities in the southwest corner of the valley. With TRAX and the Mountain View corridor being built, residents from numerous communities could access the center quickly. Another plus would be the land deal that the county would likely get. While I am not too sure of the relationship of the Salt Lake County government and Kennecott Land, I know that the center would be an extremely attractive amenity in Daybreak and would be a selling point for Kennecott Land. This would also have a multiplier effect for their commercial properties as well. As for the county, you might recall the fallout between the county and Kennecott Land early last year over the West Bench plan. Now the director (who was hired mainly to deal with Kennecott Land and plan the West Bench) and a few planning managers in the county government have been put on paid administrative leave for mismanagement of the Planning Department. Hopefully that does not affect the placement of this center.

As for funds, the City of South Jordan has been fiscally responsible and is in a better position than most to vie for this center. With a good land deal from Kennecott, we might be seeing this $30 million to $35 million dollar arts center, which could include a 500-seat auditorium, a 250-seat black-box theater, rehearsal rooms, gallery space and classrooms in our Daybreak community in the future.
The question is when. While the two other centers are likely to be built in the near future, the Southwest center will not likely be built for years to come. This makes sense as the growth of the community supports such a facility, but waiting until there is more population and complimenting infrastructure will ensure the success of this new center.

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