In August 2019, Salt Lake City Arts Council (SLCAC) declined to fund SB Dance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1998. For SB Dance, this outcome deviated from a long history of previous support from the Arts Council, and stood in contrast with increased funding from all other local public granting agencies. For these reasons, SB Dance made an open records request (GRAMA) about its grant request. The findings were astonishing:
• Members of the SLCAC grant review committee made fallacious and slanderous accusations about SB Dance. These accusations were entered into public record on two different occasions.
• The false allegations clearly influenced the process because they were included in the committee’s recommendation document. The recommendation was approved by the full Board without modification or meaningful discussion.
The result was a grant review process that fell short of being objective and fair. Further, this report demonstrates that the process was susceptible to prejudice because SLCAC exercised no oversight at any point. The report also describes how SLCAC withheld information about the accusations, and how it continues to deny that a problem exists.
It would be unwise to dismiss this report as sour grapes. SB Dance compiled this report to inform SLCAC and other interested parties of critical flaws in SLCAC’s grant-making process and management. These flaws undermine SLCAC’s ability to function as a professional organization, and to serve its mission as an agency holding the public trust. If SLCAC is not held accountable for these problems, then they will undoubtedly surface again and further erode SLCAC’s effectiveness as a proponent for City arts and culture.