UFOMT file Music Man

Vanessa Ballam, left, and Curt Olds star in the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s production of “The Music Man” on Aug. 3. On Tuesday night the Cache County Council approved a one-time funding allocation of $80,000 help support the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre.

Paul Waldron

On Tuesday night the Cache County Council approved a one-time funding allocation of $80,000 help support the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre.

The unanimous decision was made after nearly an hour of discussion about budgetary matters paired with comments from UFOMT Board Chairman Marc Ensign and half a dozen residents in favor of funding the request.

When the check from Cache County clears, the UFOMT will have received $230,000 from Logan and the county to keep the opera company founded by Michael Ballam in 1992 afloat for the coming season.

Originally, UFOMT asked the county for $100,000 while also seeking funding from the City of Logan in October when budgetary shortfalls were likely to doom the upcoming 2018 season.

“I want to thank you for considering this request,” Ensign told the council. “It has been enlightening for me and the board (through) some of the questions that have been brought about.”

Ensign went on to tell the council that UFOMT is in a better place now that they have gone through this process and have met the criteria set forth by the council and the Logan Municipal Council.

County Councilwoman Gina Worthen said she had reviews the changes made to the bylaws of UFOMT, and the opera’s board would vote them into place at its December meeting.

Among those in attendance for the hearing was River Heights musician Roger Karren who spoke to the concerns that he and other valley musicians don’t get selected to perform with the productions locally.

“There is no doubt that the (UFOMT) is a good organization; I am not going to debate that, but I think there is some mismanagement going on,” Karren said. “I think we should spend more focus on them hiring local musicians and local talent.”

Karren addressed the council and spoke about his performances with other local organizations, and he felt the hiring of musicians from the east and west coasts leads to a lot of money leaving the valley when there is local talent.

Following a string of those in support of UFOMT, Hyrum resident Doug Latham encouraged the council to represent the county residents when making the decision for supplying funding to the opera.

“I appreciate the professionalism of the (UFOMT), but I am not 100 percent certain it is the responsibility of the citizens who you represent to make certain that certain families have a good experience,” Latham told the council. “If they want a good experience, maybe they should be raising the money to have that good experience.”

Following public comment, the council discussed that the one-time funding allocation was not coming from general funds, but reserves from the Recreation, Arts, Parks, and Zoos tax funds and the Transient Room Tax.

“I don’t think any of us disagree that it is a great asset to the community,” Chairman Gregory Merrill said. “I think that we are willing one more time to do what we can because they have made a commitment to make it a viable product.”

Merrill said he hopes UFOMT does the things they have committed to the county and Logan and that they are a “firm foundation for years to come.”

John Zsiray is a journalist at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jzsiray@hjnews.com. Twitter Ramblings: @zsiray


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