For almost 20 years, Salt Lake County’s Zoo Arts and Parks,
or “ZAP” Tax has helped fund community arts programs and neighborhood
development projects within Salt Lake County, gathering and distributing millions
of dollars each year to invest in its future and the futures of its citizens.
Because everyone in the county collectively pays into the
tax, it’s important that everyone in the county have equal access to the
programs, projects, and other benefits made available through it. To make sure
this is happening, Salt Lake County has recruited a team of eight graduate
students studying Public Administration at Brigham Young University to perform
a comprehensive equity audit of the tax: an evaluation of those who apply for
and receive the grants the tax funds, and those in the community who access the
benefits that result from those grants.
Working as part of BYU’s Grantwell Program, the team is
headed by Peter Gregory and Hilary Munger, two second-year students
specifically chosen for this project by the Grantwell Program’s executive team.
Peter has previously consulted for the Walmart Foundation and on Provo City’s
“RAP” Tax; his current emphasis of study includes Finance and Management
Analysis. Hilary, who is also emphasizing in Management Analysis, has
previously worked on a number of program evaluation projects, including a new
system that will allow nonprofits and development agencies to assess the
success of their work based on the United Nations’ sustainable development
The remaining six members of their team are all specializing
in either Local Government, Management Analysis, or Nonprofit Administration,
and each brings a unique array of skills and experiences to the table,
including time on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., program evaluation, research,
government contracting, data analysis, and nonprofit management.
Together, this team of eight individuals hopes to combine
survey data, census data, primary research, and data unique to each of the
programs that receive ZAP funding to compose a substantive report, focusing on
which programs and groups of people in Salt Lake County currently benefit most
from ZAP Tax funds and whether or not any inequality exists related to the
dispersing of funds over various demographics. Should any such inequalities
exist, either among tax fund recipients or the general public, the report will
also include research-based recommendations to address these problems moving
Equity audits are on track to become a professional standard
amongst all public services ranging from school boards, to hospitals, to entire
cities. The County of Salt Lake, and more specifically Salt Lake County Zoo,
Arts and Parks is on the front edge, and one of the first to place a large
emphasis on internal evaluation of equity performance. Salt Lake Zoo, Arts, and
Parks understands the importance of evaluation to ensure they are meeting their
goals to promote diversity and the interest of minority and underrepresented
populations. It agrees with Grantmakers in the Arts who stated:
"All people, their culture, and their
art contribute to the meaning and understanding of our humanity and should be
honored and celebrated…Social inequities continue to be reflected in the
funding practices of private philanthropy and governmental funders in the arts.
Therefore, in order to more equitably support African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab,
and Native American (ALAANA) communities, arts organizations, and artists,
funders should take explicit actions to structurally change funding behaviors
and norms." (http://www.giarts.org/racial-equity-arts-philanthropy-statement-purpose)
Ultimately, Salt Lake County hopes to apply the substantive
findings of this project in a way that assures the fair and equitable
accessibility of ZAP Tax funds and ZAP Tax funded events.
Do you have questions about the project? Contact ZAP staff.