Monday, June 4, 8 p.m. Midway Community Center

Further meetings will be held the first Monday of every month. Public invited. Come and give your input about the proposed Arts Center.

The following articles appeared in the Wasatch Wave.


Published in The Wasatch Wave April 18, 2018

The first public meeting on the new privately-funded Arts Center was held at the Midway Community Center Monday, April 2 with about 35 people in attendance with a productive back-and-forth discussion. A partial review of the meeting follows:

Organization for Private Fundraising

A new non-profit organization, Mountain Village Arts Center, has been formed to fundraise, build, and operate the new arts center, which will be a home for High Valley Arts Foundation as well as a venue for public arts groups.

Preserving Culture

High Valley Arts plans to dramatize the stories of original settlers to Wasatch County in the arts center to preserve cultural heritage as well as to present new theatrical events to promote freedom.  As an example, the musical “Hamilton” has become a worldwide phenomenon, bringing to the forefront an appreciation for America’s freedom struggle.

First Location Review/Discussion

Several locations around the valley are being considered for the Arts Center, including two in Midway and one in Heber.  This meeting focused on the Memorial Hill location as it was the preferred location identified by the Wasatch County Arts Council Coalition.

Dan Luster, potential land donor, and member of the MVAC Board, spoke of his willingness to donate land for the arts center, but stressed that he would only do so if Midway City council and residents are in favor of this location at Memorial Hill. He also shared with the attendees his organization’s plan to preserve land and the historic/rural character of Midway. His group has a goal of saving 1,000 acres in Midway and has saved a total of 90 acres so far.

Dan spoke about how the Arts Center could be a key tool for preserving Midway’s land and culture.  If locating the arts center in front of Memorial Hill is desired by Midway City residents and City Council, Dan has proposed that the MVAC Board require 10-15% of the donation ($2.5M to $3.5M) for the building to be used to purchase open space elsewhere in Midway, as a win/win for the community and the donor.

Much discussion was given to the prospect of growth in Midway, noting that without an adjustment in zoning, Midway will likely end up looking like any other city, with commercial development along Midway’s Main Street obscuring any views of the countryside, including Memorial Hill.

Dan suggested that it would be wise to locate the Arts Center at the base of the Hill as an anchor to draw visitors and businesses off of Main Street. He further suggested this would enable more rural- oriented businesses and sheep grazing near Main Street.  Further, it would enable a permanent  “view corridor” from main street up to Memorial Hill, allowing the iconic Hill to be seen from the street, while still providing the economic boost commercial development would bring Midway in a mixed-use development. All buildings in his development will have a historic, European design.

The next public meeting on the proposed Arts Center will be Monday, May 7th at 8 p.m. in the Midway Community Center.


By Randon Wilson and Sue Waldrip

Published March 21, 2018, in The Wasatch Wave

 Midway City has come a long way — from the first settlers who arrived in 1859 to the 80,000 visitors who come each year for Swiss Days. With wonderful patriotic programs, outdoor painting competitions for artists, musicals, Swiss Bells, Heber Valley Orchestra and a plethora of programs for children, Midway is truly a wonderful city.

In some ways, however, Midway is at a crossroads. The cost of maintaining roads and infrastructure, the cost of fire protection, law enforcement, trails, legal counsel, staffing, etc., loom as a burden that may not be met under the current economic situation. More residential growth will not help the City’s bottom line.

So what can be done to broaden the financial base to allow Midway City to comfortably operate into the future?

Much of Midway’s income comes from sales tax, resort tax and some from real estate taxes. The answer to Midway’s future economic well-being is likely to come from broadening its commercial base so that more visitors come and spend their dollars in Midway’s restaurants, hotels and stores and then return home.

Not all businesses in Midway thrive. Many, many small Midway businesses have come and gone over the years. With so few retail outlets scattered up and down Main Street, there’s not a compelling reason for visitors to leave their cars and shop in one store, get in their cars, drive a bit, and shop at another. Perhaps what is needed is a beautiful, brilliantly-conceived commercial center that is carefully planned to be sensitive to Midway’s desire for open space.

Add a performing arts center to a mixed-use commercial area and a vision of something very important for Midway’s economic future begins to take shape. There are estimates of as much as a 50% increase in Midway’s current budget with such a commercial center.

Midway is a healing place, a place of peace and beauty. It will not be enhanced by more gas stations, night clubs, liquor stores or even by big box stores. But by adding the right stores, an arts center presenting concerts, plays, and musicals and selling art by local artists, more visitors will come to Midway, stay a few days in our bed and breakfasts, hotels or motels, go shopping, attend the theatre, Cowboy Poetry, Swiss Days, visit Memorial Hill, attend a patriotic program, buy art and attend Soldier Hollow events and then go home. With our already vibrant outdoor activities, Midway’s proximity to Salt Lake Valley, Utah Valley, and Park City almost assures us of plenty of visitors by adding evening arts events, wonderful little shops, and intriguing restaurants.

Yes, Midway is at a crossroads, it can limp along as it now seems to be doing or it can put down an anchor that will provide assurance of its future financial well-being.

You’re invited to attend the first community meeting to discuss Midway’s potential new arts center to be held Monday, April 2 at 8 p.m. at the Midway Community Center.


WHAT THEATER MODEL WILL THE ARTS CENTER FOLLOW?  Highly successful arts centers have a resident theater company to provide many events to “brand” the facility with an expected quality. High Valley Arts Foundation (HVAF) will be the resident theater company and will perform on the Main Stage about 70% of the available time. Community arts groups and other events will have access to the three other performing venues (two in the winter), and 30% of Main Stage time all year.

WHAT NEW PROGRAMS DOES HVAF CONTEMPLATE?  Theater can be an intense teaching tool. As Brigham Young said, “If I were placed on a cannibal island and given a task of civilizing its people, I should straightway build a theater.”  HVAF plans to feature “Let Freedom Ring!” a powerful drama program to promote freedom. Included will be a 2-week summer festival, which, along with Broadway musicals, will feature original musicals/children’s theater, etc. telling spellbinding stories of freedom as well as year-long Family Freedom Firesides in the Recital Hall with stories/acting for kids and adult presentations on freedom topics. The Sutherland Institute and Zermatt Resort are partnering with HVAF in this unique concept to “Foster Freedom Through the Arts.”

WHERE WILL THE MONEY TO BUILD THE ARTS CENTER COME FROM? Private donors will provide the funds to build the Arts Center and will receive naming rights in return, thus giving them a lasting legacy. The principal donor will determine the name for the center.

WHAT WILL THE BUILDING LOOK LIKE? Main Theater (500-600 seats); Black-Box Theater (150 seats); Outdoor Theater (400 seats): and Recital Hall (125-150 chairs).  Two-story high structure with a beautiful reception area on the second floor with large windows overlooking the Valley.

HOW EXPENSIVE WILL THE BUILDING BE TO RENT? The estimated maintenance costs of $600-$800/day will price local groups out of the picture. So the non-profit corporation which will build and own the building will seek $2-4 million dollars above construction costs for an Maintenance Endowment to keep rental rates reasonable. Arts groups can become Legacy Artists to 1) meet regularly with the Arts Center Board and 2) contribute, if they wish, to this fund to further lower rental rates.

CAN ANYONE RENT THE BUILDING? Yes. The beautiful building will be available for receptions, meetings, luncheons, banquets, etc. The Resident Theater Company and Wasatch County arts groups will have the first scheduling opportunities, however.

WHAT IMPACT WILL A NEW FACILITY HAVE ON HVAF?  HVAF needs a home and an opportunity to expand its programs.  As Midway City grows, the facilities we have rented from the City for 10+ years are getting very busy, forcing HVAF to present fewer performances.

COMMUNITY MEETING TO LEARN ABOUT THE PROPOSED ARTS CENTER: Every first Monday in upcoming months. First meeting April 2, 8 p.m. Midway Community Center. All invited.


In theater, the Green Room is where the actors hang out while waiting for the show to start. Since Midway is on the brink of getting an arts center, it seems appropriate that the public should hang out in the Green Room while waiting for an amazing show to begin – a real, live arts center in Midway!

IMAGINE THIS! You’re in a plush, comfy seat as the lush sounds of the overture surround you. Anticipation grows as the curtain rises, and voila, before you is a scene outside the Covent Gardens in London or in a shabby New York Orphanage. For the next two hours, you’ll be transported to another time, another place, and you’ll identify with perfect strangers who will take you into their lives and will show you what they see and teach you what they feel.

WILL IT CHANGE YOU? You may gain an insight about yourself you didn’t have before. When the final curtain falls, and you return to reality, you may be changed. That is the magic of a stage musical, or a drama, ballet, or concert. If performed well, audiences can feel the energy of performers on the stage, making the experience more moving, more real than a movie. Nothing can substitute for a live performance!

A THEATER? REALLY? Midway is about to get a real Arts Center with a beautiful main theater, a recital hall, and a variety of other performing areas, and most importantly, opportunities to uplift, enrich, and inspire audiences!  Land has now been offered in two different areas of the City to make such a building possible.

HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT? In 2007, High Valley Arts Foundation began presenting stage performances in Midway with the ultimate goal of building a privately-funded arts center. The group began to actively pursue land in July, 2014, and by January, 2017, had found a land donor and created preliminary drawings for a privately-built theater.

AND THE COMMUNITY GROUP? In early 2016, the community-based Heber Valley Arts Center Coalition was formed to investigate interest in a publicly-funded arts center. After creating an arts center concept and energetically promoting it in meetings with local government entities, it was learned in late 2017 that neither Midway City, Heber City, nor Wasatch County were in a position to provide public funding to build an arts center, thus casting serious doubt on the potential of a publicly-funded building.

NO FUNDS? THEN WHAT? Fortunately, since HVAF had already created a design concept for a privately-funded arts center to serve all community arts groups and had plans to secure the funding, the two groups began working together to build a privately-funded arts center which would have space for tourist-attracting professional theatrical performances as well as ample venues for community performances and art displays.

WHAT’S NEXT? Over the next few months, information about the arts center will be presented in the Wasatch Wave and on social media. In addition, public meetings about the building will be held at the Midway Community Center on the first Monday of each month at 8 p.m. beginning on April 2. So, get ready! The show’s about to begin.