Orem CARE Tax Benefits Could Leave Hale Center Theater Orem Without Funds | News, Sports, Jobs

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Faythe Harwood of Orem swims in the lap pool Friday, March 24, 2017, at the Orem Fitness Center.

For nearly two decades, the residents of Orem have voted to help fund the city’s arts and recreation through the Orem CARE Levy. The first vote dates back to 2005.

Residents raised the tax in 2013 and agreed to keep the tax, with arts and recreation splitting the allotment 50-50.

Within the arts category, there are three levels of grants – major grants that can receive $10,000 or more, mid-range grants up to $9,999, and mini-grants up to $4,999. Major grants must provide information on ticket sales and other items that the other two categories do not, but all must be 501(c)3 foundations.

At Tuesday’s city council business session, major grants were notified of their allotments that would later be voted on by council. The three main organizations are the SCERA Center for the Arts, the Utah Metropolitan Ballet and the Hale Center Theater Orem.

Hale Center requested the maximum it could ask for, approximately $1.27 million. SCERA asked for $759,936 and the Metropolitan Ballet asked for $76,492.

Courtesy picture

The SCERA was awarded its entire application. The ballet received $25,000 and the Hale Center Theater received $0.

Hale recently announced that dōTERRA had offered them land and $5 million to relocate to its Pleasant Grove campus and build their new theater there, rather than in Orem.

On Tuesday, these theater heads were shocked to learn that they had apparently been barred from funding even though the Hale would operate in Orem until the end of 2024.

“We are truly grateful to the town of Orem for supporting the arts through CARE tax funds. These dollars have enabled the theater to elevate production values ​​at all levels, including paying artists a modest salary and improving educational theater arts programming for youth and adults in our community,” said Cody. Swenson, executive director of Hale.

“We are saddened that the Orem City Council has proposed to withdraw all CARE tax funding to the Hale Center Theater Orem. For 32 years, our non-profit organization has called Orem home, and we will continue to operate in Orem for another two years, bringing the same economic impact we have had in years past,” he added. Swenson also said the funding, if successful, could lead to layoffs, pay cuts and ticket price increases.

A final decision on CARE tax benefits has not been decided, according to Deputy City Manager Steven Downs.

“A proposal has been put forward by those of us who are heavily involved in the CARE allocation process to the rest of the City Council. The City Council now has the opportunity to review this proposal and provide feedback. The final decision rests with the entire city council and must be made at a future meeting of the city council.

Hale’s zero-dollar stipend also surprised some council members, including Councilwoman Debby Lauret, the council’s arts liaison.

“The Hale Center organization has been a tremendous asset to our community for our three decades, providing exceptional theatrical performances and educational offerings for children, teens and adults. I think we should continue to provide at least partial funding until 2024 when they move to Pleasant Grove,” Lauret said.

Greg Cook, founding leader of dōTERRA and chairman of the board, was also surprised, saying he didn’t see this decision coming at all.

“I remain hopeful that Orem City will continue to support an institution that has been an integral part of Orem for 32 years,” Cook said. “The theater funding proposals by some members of the Orem City Council do not reflect the broad sense of appreciation for the talents and sacrifices required to create such a rewarding experience.”

Cook, however, supports the center’s mission to provide artistic experiences in the Utah Valley.

“I want to allay the concerns, however, of Hale’s hard-working organization and his incredible cast and crew, as well as theater patrons who benefit from low-cost tickets, made possible by CARE tax funds, for knowing that your jobs are secure and prices will remain affordable,” he said.

While the board still has its final vote on the matter at the meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 24, there are other changes to the CARE tax allocation.

It has been suggested, and endorsed by some, that the CARE levy be split into thirds, with one third going to the arts, another third to recreation, and another third to parks only.

This idea seems to have the council’s approval. With a new parks division added this year, some are summarizing that funds from Hale could be transferred to parks.

Each year, the City Council and CARE Commission are responsible for directing the investment of CARE taxpayer dollars within the Orem community.

“Without failing, every year there are more valid projects and requests than funds available. As such, the City’s desire is to invest these funds in a balanced way between parks, arts and recreation, which will not only benefit most Orem families now, but for many years into the future. said Downs.

Several projects and upgrades are expected at the parks, including Wi-Fi upgrades, playgrounds and other facility improvements.

“We wish the Hale Center Theater the best as they transition to their future home in Pleasant Grove,” said Brenn Bybee, Deputy City Manager and CARE Tax Program Manager. “The City of Orem has awarded approximately $5.3 million in CARE tax funds specifically to the Hale Center Theater in Orem since our constituents approved this tax in 2005.”

Bybee called the shared history a “wonderful partnership” and doesn’t fault the organization for exploring options and ultimately reaching an agreement to move north. “The opportunity at Pleasant Grove provides an incredible opportunity for the Hale Center Theater and its patrons for many years to come,” added Bybee.

CARE’s initial tax vote in 2005 was launched to help develop the arts. At first glance, it was about improving and modernizing the SCERA Center for the Arts. An investigation was carried out to see what should be done in the hall, theaters and grounds and the city council, at the time, determined that it was too much money.

Then a Center for Story was proposed, with a million dollar donation from Karen and Alan Ashton. After years of seeking additional funding and resources, as well as the decision to move the annual storytelling festival to Thanksgiving Point, the Center for Story faded away and eventually became what is now Library Hall.


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James V. Hayes