5 reasons why the arts make Salt Lake City great

Written for THE BLOCKS by Kathleen Sykes

As a teenager, I remember lamenting about living in Salt Lake. “There’s nothing to do!” I would whine. “There’s no culture!” I complained. Now that I have 10+ years of perspective, I can admit that I was wrong. This city is filled with accessible, incredible art—you just have to open your eyes and see it for yourself. Here are five reasons why the arts make Salt Lake City an incredible place to be:

The arts in THE BLOCKS  are affordable

Whenever I tell people how affordable the arts are in Salt Lake City (or Utah in general), they usually don’t believe me. And why should they? The arts have the reputation of being pretentious and expensive. But before you fight me on this, research the prices around town. You’ll see that it’s easy to scrape together a few extra bucks a month to go see something spectacular.

Want examples? Repertory Dance Theatre has their family-friendly Ring Around the Rose program  for $5.50 a ticket; Utah Symphony tickets start around $24; The Gallivan Center and Excellence in the Community regularly give free concerts; The Off Broadway Theatre’s tickets are $16 for adults; UMOCA has a suggested donation of just $5; and you can take a pretty excellent walking tour of all the downtown murals for free. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the variety of deals that many arts organizations offer to students, veterans, and even families.

Of course, there are some pricey options. But there is an abundance of free or inexpensive options that are well worth the price to experience something amazing.

You can make the arts a family affair

Many parents I know shudder at the idea of bringing their kids to an arts event—they don’t know if they’ll behave or if they’ll even enjoy the performance. But there are so many wiggle-friendly options around Salt Lake. Many performing arts organizations put on productions especially for kids that will keep them entertained.

For example, last year I took my 4-year-old niece to go and see Ballet West’s Aladdin. I was a nervous she might try and talk throughout the performance or get up and dance in the aisles. But to my delight (and hers) she was wide-eyed and transfixed the whole time. The best part is she still talks about it to this day.

There are even programs that welcome wiggly kids to participate in the arts. Repertory Dance Theatre’s Ring Around the Rose encourages kids to get up and dance, and Utah Symphony’s family shows encourage musical participation from the audience.

We’re spoiled rotten with how high quality they are

If you grew up in Salt Lake City as I did, you might not realize just how good the arts are here. There is so much fantastic art to be found in the 45 block radius that is Salt Lake’s cultural core. We have a world-renowned symphony orchestra, a Broadway touring house, one of the longest running ballet companies in the nation, dozens of museums and galleries, and more.

I’ve seen some great art in some amazing cities in my life, but I’m always astonished at what our local arts organizations are able to produce. I can honestly say that Utah Opera’s production of Moby-Dick may have been one of the best theatrical works I have ever seen. I never cease to be in awe of the artistry and technical skill Ballet West’s dancers bring to the table. I’ll never get sick of listening to the Utah Symphony perform live. We have it good here.

Explore your creative side and take a class!

One of the great things about this city is that you don’t have to admire the arts from afar. There are dozens of opportunities to participate in the arts yourself (even as an adult)!

Craft Lake City offers fun workshops where you can learn to make anything from custom lipsticks to cute wall hangings. Did you always want to learn how to dance? Repertory Dance Theatre, The Municipal Ballet Company, and Ballet West all offer classes (including classes for beginners). Discover your inner thespian and take an improv class at The Off Broadway Theatre. You can even take courses about contemporary art appreciation at UMOCA.

There’s something for everyone

No matter what your interests are, THE BLOCKS  has something for you to explore. If you’re a die-hard dance fan, there are several companies you can enjoy. If you love live music, you can find almost always find a concert going on. Do you love movies? You can see Oscar Animated Shorts, award-winning documentaries, or attend a lecture at the Salt Lake Film Society.

There’s no lack of culture in downtown Salt Lake and practically no excuses to miss out on the fun. Get started today and see what THE BLOCKS has to offer.


Kathleen Sykes is a Salt Lake native who enjoys donuts, traveling, writing, and is passionately in love with the arts. She works for Utah Symphony Utah Opera and manages their social media. When she’s not hauling around a camera or Instagramming, she’s usually curled up with a good book. You can follow her on Twitter: @elementsdestyle