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The City Journals

Salt Lake County’s $46 million Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center officially opens in Taylorsville

Jun 30, 2021 12:47PM ● By Carl Fauver

Taylorsville City and Salt Lake County elected officials stood shoulder-to-shoulder for the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center ribbon cutting. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

For the first time ever, Salt Lake County now owns and operates a performing arts venue outside the downtown Salt Lake area, following the May 26 ribbon cutting inside the new architectural marvel, adjacent to Taylorsville City Hall.

“We are so pleased to open the new Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center today,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson told the assembled dignitaries and media members. “This new venue is an important cultural asset in Salt Lake County and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting the arts and enhancing the quality of life in our valley. Taylorsville deserves a site like this. I also love your plans for your open space.”

Wilson, of course, was referring to what will be called “Centennial Plaza,” west of the arts center and south of Taylorsville City Hall. Work continues on the $750,000 outdoor amphitheater and several other amenities, with a scheduled opening closer to Labor Day.

Among the other arts center ribbon cutting speakers were Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson and the city’s representative on the Salt Lake County Council, Aimee Winder Newton.

“It has been a thrill to watch this beautiful venue go up right outside our windows on the Taylorsville City Hall campus,” Overson said. “We are so proud to be a part of this project and we look forward to welcoming visitors.”

In exchange for siting the new arts center in Taylorsville, city leaders partnered with the county in making a financial contribution and providing the venue’s land through a long-term ground lease. The city’s participation in the partnership is valued at $5 million. 

Because it is a county facility, city leaders and administrators will not be involved in operating the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center. However, from the very beginning—after the project was first announced in December 2016—city officials participated in the design of the new facility, serving on various advisory boards.

For County Councilwoman Winder Newton, the ribbon cutting was particularly meaningful, since she was actively involved in the mid-1990s effort to incorporate her home city.

“Taylorsville became a city in 1996 and we celebrated our first birthday by producing a musical called ‘Over Jordan,’” she told the ribbon-cutting audience. “The performance honored the heritage and history of the area and was written, produced and directed by Taylorsville residents.”

She went on the explain, there were no indoor stages or comfortable seats available for that performance. Instead, it was staged outdoors, at the Salt Lake Community College Taylorsville campus.

“I’m sure at that time, not a single one of us would’ve imagined that our city, 24 years later, would be home to a beautiful theater like this,” Winder Newton said. “I’m grateful to Taylorsville for stepping up and working with the County to make this happen and pleased to work with my fellow council members to fund and support this important project.”

The three primary rooms in the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center are the 438-seat main stage theater, the 214-seat black box theater (called “Studio 5400”) and the multi-use rehearsal and event space dubbed the “Centennial Room.” There are also separate dressing rooms for the two theatres, along with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.

“This is such a fantastic facility,” Taylorsville City Council Chairman Curt Cochran said after the ribbon cutting. “Who would have ever thought a farm and strawberry fields 25 years ago would one day become this? I appreciate the vision of our past city leaders, to maintain this space until they found the best use for it.”

Because Utah achieved statehood in 1896 and Taylorsville incorporated in 1996, the community was nicknamed the “Centennial City.” That’s why the open space west of the new arts center will be called “Centennial Plaza.” That is also the origin for the name of the art center’s rehearsal space.

However, Salt Lake County officials also expect the “Centennial Room” to be used for business and corporate events, family reunions, high school proms and a variety of other purposes. With one entire wall mirrored, the room feels twice the size it is, and also gives practicing performers the opportunity to see their every move.

Following the May 26 ribbon cutting, members of the public enjoyed their first walks through the new Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center the following week, with open house self-guided tours on June 1, 3 and 5.

The next week, Body Logic Dance Company presented the first official ticketed performances inside the new arts center. 

Before COVID-19 disrupted our lives for more than a year, the Taylorsville Arts Council had hoped to stage the first performances in the new arts center. Instead, the local volunteer artists will make their debuts in the Mid-Valley PAC later this year and early next year.

“The four-woman stage production ‘Winter Wonderettes’ will be performed December 2–4 in Studio 5400,” Arts Council Co-chair Howard Wilson said. “Then, the Taylorsville Arts Council’s first-ever performance in the large theater will be ‘Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ Jan. 31 through Feb. 5, 2022.”

The just-created Taylorsville City Police Department also put the arts center to use on June 21, using the facility to host its swearing-in ceremony for the department’s 63 new officers and leaders.

Even on non-performance days, the Mid-Valley PAC ticket office will be open six days a week, with tickets available to purchase for performances at all Salt Lake County facilities. Information about upcoming performances is available at saltlakecountyarts.org.

The arts center project will not be 100% completed until sometime this summer, when a piece of public art will be installed just outside the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center. The piece—from Tooza Design of Salt Lake—will feature metal, color, reflective components and custom etchings. Titled “One Hundred Items,” the piece is scheduled for installation later this month.

Meanwhile, the other piece of public art commissioned for the arts center now hangs overhead inside the PAC’s spacious lobby. Created by New York City-based artist Danielle Roney, “Adagio” is a sculpture created from 1,343 highly polished stainless-steel spheres on a linear frame. The artist says the shape was developed from a dancer’s movements, captured digitally.