Since Utah’s founding days, its citizens have made arts and culture an integral part of their lives and communities. The earliest pioneers built theaters and social halls alongside churches; the Utah Arts Council, established in 1899 just three years after Utah became the 45th state in the union, is the nation’s oldest state arts agency.

The cultural scene has evolved with the state itself, especially in the Salt Lake County area. In the early 1960s, local leaders identified a number of signature development projects as part of its Second Century Plan, including a civic auditorium to house dance, drama and the symphony.

This vision was realized a decade later with the construction of Abravanel Hall and the renovation of the landmark Capitol Theatre, both funded by the 1975 Bicentennial Bond.

Heralded for its world-class acoustics, Abravanel Hall today is part of a preeminent three-venue collection owned and operated by the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts that also includes the Capitol Theatre and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Along with a number of other first-class event-capable museums, theaters, festivals and artistic interactions, these signify Salt Lake City’s strength as a dynamic cultural destination for groups and visitors. In nearby Park City, where live theater was a cultural staple even in its rough and tumble days as a mining center, an eclectic, artistic milieu provides planners with even more options.

Founding pioneer Brigham Young, who called for the building of the Salt Lake Theatre in 1862 (known as the “Cathedral in the Desert,” this legendary venue, now no more, once drew national acts), would be proud of the Salt Lake area’s fidelity to the arts.

Here are eight local choices for inspiring cultural connections.

UTAH MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (UMOCA), SALT LAKE CITY
www.utahmoca.org
Previously the Salt Lake Art Center, originally established in 1931, UMOCA advantageously sits adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center in the heart of Salt Lake City.

“Our location means that we are by far the most convenient venue in town for business visitors who want to schedule a meeting or event in a unique cultural space,” says Adam Price, executive director of UMOCA. “Regularly offering exhibitions of work by internationally recognized artists as well as the best emerging artists from our state, we are also proud to be able to provide visitors with the kind of premier art experiences more commonly associated with New York, London and Tokyo.”

Routinely hosting a mix of local and national groups, the museum’s rental facilities include a 155-seat auditorium ideal for film screenings, panel discussions and presentations, along with after-hours access to the galleries, office space and a courtyard for receptions of up to 200. Additionally, groups may book a 30-minute private tour of UMOCA exhibitions as part of their event.