The city of Orem has a long heritage of supporting worthwhile public arts and recreation organizations, from the founding of SCERA in 1933, which created a community arts center, through the present day, where voters have twice supported the CARE tax to promote arts and recreation in the community. CARE funds have recently paid for the construction of the All-Together Playground and the Orem Splash Pad, and benefit our community in numerous other ways through grants to local organizations such as the Hale Center Theatre, the SCERA Center for the Arts, and many other groups that benefit our community. Our beautiful public parks and excellent library are more than places for individuals to exercise or study-- they are places we come together as a community, both in day-to-day interactions and through celebrations such as Summerfest and the summer reading program. When we invest in these community resources, we all benefit.
For decades, one of the clearest examples of the integration between arts and community in Orem was the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. Originally envisioned in 1990 as a fundraiser for the Orem Public Library, the Festival has brought families together to listen to talented storytellers and has encouraged many people to share their own stories and to value the power of storytelling. In addition to bringing our community together each year, the high quality of the Festival drew national attention and put Orem on the map as a center of the arts. It was also a business success, bringing in significant revenue and bringing visitors to Orem who stayed in local hotels, ate at local restaurants, and shopped in local businesses. Sadly, in recent years the Festival's tremendous success strained Orem's ability to support it, and this year will be the first year that the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival is held outside of Orem. While its growth and new location at Thanksgiving Point are great news for the Festival, it is still a loss for Orem, culturally and financially. We need to take this opportunity to renew our commitment as a community to investing in the arts so we can continue the traditions that led to the creation of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival to begin with.