The Utah Cultural Alliance (UCA), a statewide advocacy group for the humanities and the arts, recently released its municipal candidate grades and endorsements. With the 2019 Utah primaries coming up this month, voters across the state are considering the differing views of all the candidates, including their support of the arts.
Board and staff members for the UCA spent dozens of hours compiling responses, track records and interviews of candidates for local office around the state since the filing deadline in June. In addition to endorsing candidates with proven experience in supporting the arts and humanities, the organizers discussed the importance of culture with the candidates and its benefits for both government and society.
Crystal Young-Otterstrom, executive director for the Utah Cultural Alliance, explained why culture should play a role in voting decisions.
“There are hundreds if not thousands of peer-reviewed studies that show strong correlation of positive benefits of arts and humanities to our social lives, our health, education and economic impacts,” she said.
According to her, the arts have been shown to reduce blood pressure and long-term, stress-related diseases, lessen depression and improve mental health and even assist Alzheimer's patients.
Earlier this year, the organization released its State of Utah Culture Report, which describes the various economic impacts of the creative industry in Utah. The report states in 2018 the industry generated $16 billion in sales and employed 111,119 Utahns.
Young-Otterstrom believes it is important to note that these impacts not only benefit governments but also everyday Utahns, who will make important decisions for the arts at the ballot box this August and November.
Katie Smith, a resident of Logan, described how the arts were an integral part of her education and why supporting the arts is important in her voting decisions.
“I do think it’s very important that the candidates care about arts," she said, "especially growing up in a high school where I was able to express myself through music and artistic things like that. I think it really helped bring value to my experience, and I definitely want to see somebody in there that does care about that.”