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The City Journals

Oct. 29 groundbreaking planned for $39-million Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center

Oct 05, 2018 03:44PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Groundbreaking on this Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center is scheduled for the end of the month, southeast of Taylorsville City Hall. (Carl Fauver)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Remember when you were a kid and Christmas was approaching … but way too slowly? Then, some wiseacre would say “Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year” … when you knew full well those five days before Christmas run about 43 hours each!

Adults tend to outgrow such things, unless they are waiting for a $39-million gift that they were told about nearly two years ago and still won’t be able to play in for two more years.

Welcome to the Taylorsville Arts Council’s dilemma. 

“It’s been a long wait [since the arts center was first announced in December 2016] but well worth it,” said Taylorsville Arts Council Treasurer Gordon Wolf. “It is going to be absolutely fantastic. The Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center will be the jewel of the west side. I can’t express how excited the arts council is.”

Nearly two years of planning meetings have led to the official arts center groundbreaking, scheduled for Oct. 29.

That’s a lot of time for the local art community, or Taylorsville City Council, to start to feel like they are being steamrolled by the county leaders, in the organization and execution of the construction plan.

But Taylorsville people gush about how that did not happen at any point in the planning process.

“Everyone with the county has been so good to work with on this project,” said Taylorsville Councilman Ernest Burgess, who has been the council’s most active participant in the arts center organizing meetings. “They have listened to our suggestions, used them when they could, or explained when something wouldn’t work. I have enjoyed being involved in the process and think (the performing arts center) will be terrific.”

Arts council Treasurer Wolf agrees.

“I have been on the design team since the get-go,” he said. “We began with rough drawings. One of our early concerns was how to block the afternoon sun, since the building will face west. But architects incorporated screens into the plans and worked with our (arts council) suggestions. The county people, the board of trustees—everyone has been so good to work with, and I think people will love the finished building.”

Of course, that will be another two-year wait, with the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center scheduled to host its first performances in late 2020. But after the Oct. 29 groundbreaking, the public will at least be able to see daily construction progress, while commuting on 5400 South, past 2600 West.

In leading up to this point, center design team members flew to Phoenix, Arizona, a few months ago to tour a pair of similar arts centers there. More recently, several of them also visited the still-under-construction Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled to open soon on the campus of Utah Valley University. That facility will be roughly double the size of the Taylorsville arts center but does have enough similarities to have prompted that trip around Point of the Mountain.

“Touring the Noorda Center was really valuable,” said Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson. “Even though it is much larger, it really helped us to get a visual of what we have been talking about for two years. In some ways, the outside of [the UVU center] is quite similar [to how the Mid-Valley Center will appear].”

Salt Lake County is funding the local arts center while Taylorsville City donated the land and a smaller portion of the money. The 67,500-square-foot facility will feature a 440-seat main (or “proscenium”) theater, along with a so-called “black box” theater with seating configurations ranging from 50 to 225.

The main theater will include a 38-foot-by-85-foot stage, along with an orchestra pit, technical support booths and balcony seating. Rehearsal and dressing rooms also promise to be spacious—possibly the nicest amenities Taylorsville Arts Council performers will ever have used. 

“I am so excited and so ready for this to happen,” Overson said. “We (city representatives) have been involved in every decision. So many hands have been on this project. With everyone working together and communicating well, I don’t think we have missed any important details. I can’t wait to see the first performance.”

But she’ll have to—two more years to be exact—as the world’s slowest march toward this particular Christmas present continues.

Interested members of the public are invited to attend the Oct. 29 groundbreaking ceremony. As of our press deadline, officials were still finalizing a starting time and other details of the event.