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ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Greasing the wheels of the Summit County’s arts and recreation scene are the various grants awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide the soundtrack in the summer, bring international cinema in the winter and dust the hundreds of trails for hikers and bikers from the spring through the fall.

In a letter to Summit County Commissioners in 2005, Randy Barton, founder of Mountain Town Stages explained how critical such funding is to the concert organization, responsible for booking and producing nearly 100 free concerts in the Park City area during the warmer months. "Without the funding that the County provides us through the RAP Tax, Restaurant Tax and TRT programs we simply would not exist," he wrote.

Today, the county releases the 2008 Restaurant Tax applications, a fund that distributed close to $1.4 million in 2007. The grant program’ bank comes from a one-percent tax levied on all restaurant sales in Summit County, which includes the bills paid at the 100-plus eateries in the Park City area.

Since the program began in 1992, its mission has been to promote tourism, meaning organizations eligible for funding must appeal to out-of-towners. Typically grants reviewed by the committee specify a need to get the word out. Last year, the biggest grant — $300,000 — was awarded to the Park City Chamber Bureau for advertising, followed by Park City Municipal, which received $215,000 to help renovate the Park City History Museum. Smaller sums went to groups like Women’s Ski Jumping for marketing, the Park City Chamber Music Society for promotion and the Park City Performing Arts Foundation for advertising.

Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program (ANE) received $3,000 for advertising for the organization’s November rug show that highlights Native American artisans’ crafts.

"Because of the advertising we’ve done in magazines like the Salt Lake Magazine and Cowboys and Indians, we get calls from all across the country," says Linda Myers, director of ANE. "Off the top of my head, I remember people calling from places like New York, Washington D.C., and Ohio about the show."

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Anticipating a busy year, Carol Potter, founder of the Mountain Trails Foundation, a nonprofit that maintains more than 300 miles of trail, plans to apply for two grants. After three years of planning, this June the organization will host the International Mountain Biking Association and will require extra support, she says.

"It’s a huge event all the leading bicycle advocacy groups are coming and I want to dazzle them," says Potter. "I want to make sure that they know they’re in Park City, Utah."

Potter says she has always applied for the Restaurant Tax grants. She remembers her first year receiving a grant to entertain reporters when Mountain Town Trails Foundation was still a fledgling. Since then Potter estimates she’s entertained more than 100 reporters.

"I’ve hosted reporters from the Reno Herald, Outside Magazine, Mountain Bike Magazine, the list goes on and on," she says. "I’ve been working off that grant for years it’s very important. Every year it’s on my list to do."

According to a press release distributed this week by Tonja Hanson, chair of the Restaurant Tax Advisory Committee, more than 400 different projects throughout Summit County have received funding from the program. Documents in the past that have summarized the committee’s process indicate members concentrate on an applicant’s ability to bring in guests from outside the county and their ability to provide an amenity to guests that encourages a return visit.

In addition to Hanson, the 2008 committee that will review this year’s applications includes Monty Coates of Snyderville, Eileen Dunn from Kamas, Laura Murphy form Park City, Jan Wilking from Park City, Julie Wilson from Snyderville, Jeanne Lehan from Oakley, Jerry Gilomen from Park City, and Colleen Sargent, Coalville. Anita Lewis of the County Commissioner’s office will also assist the committee in its work. All applications are due by March 28.

Apply for a Summit County Restaurant Tax grant

Forms for nonprofit organizations wishing to apply for a Summit county Restaurant Tax grant will be available at the Summit County Courthouse in Coalville, Kamas County Services Building, and the Sheldon Richins County Building in the Snyderville Basin. The application will also be available on the Internet at summitcounty.org.

The application form includes a letter detailing what kinds of projects and organizations are eligible to apply, instructions for how to submit an application and a description of the criteria and the process which the advisory committee uses. All applications are due March 28.

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