Public Issues | Visual Arts

This Little Piggy Went to Uffens Marketplace

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park to open it’s proverbial doors and welcome the eager public. But along with throngs of produce-buyers and art-lovers, the Market’s opening has also brought much controversy in the community of artists regarding the artists selling their wares in the park.

The “non-paying” artists, that is.

Starting last summer, the Downtown Alliance added the new “Arts and Crafts Market” area to the Farmer’s Market, which has been a thriving success. The artists pay either on a weekly basis, or for the entire summer for these coveted booth spaces. One hundred feet away from these artists,  the “free speech” artists have set up booth space to sell their wares, much to the aggravation of the farmers and the booth-paying artists.

This struggle between commerce and free speech has gone to the Salt Lake City Council, where upwards of twenty artists showed up in one week to speak their piece to the council members regarding their feelings on these issues. Farmers and their advocates also showed up at the Council meetings to share their displeasure about the “renegade” artists (sometimes referred to as “parasites”) who set up at the Farmer’s Market. There were also impassioned pleas from the free-speech artists, encouraging the City Council members to vote in favor of the artists selling for free in Pioneer Park, wherever they pleased.

The Council ended up somewhere in-between, deciding to allow the free-speech artists to stay at Pioneer Park, at a distance of 150 feet from the Farmer’s Market and Arts and Crafts Market. A $30.00 fee has also been levied, which has angered some artists who feel it is their First Amendment right to display their works in public, free of charge.

Where public entities have failed to find a solution, the private sector may be able to provide some assistance. Uffens Marketplace, just north of Pioneer Park at 336 West Broadway (300 South) is offering artists booth space free of charge.

Uffens Marketplace was built with Pike Place Market in Seattle in mind. Due to the raging success of the Farmer’s Market in Pioneer Park over the last few years, the idea of a year-round marketplace with booths for artists and crafters is a brilliant idea waiting to come to fruition. All they need are the artists. A sort of “If you build it…they will come” mentality. And since it is private property, it is free. Free for the artist or performer to set up a in a 6’ by 8’ booth space in a beautiful venue. Free to be successful.

Since the Marketplace is just north of Pioneer Park, organizers believe that participating artists will get a great deal of traffic from the Farmer’s Market, but be able to be in a place where they are welcomed. Nay…needed. This is not to say this space will always be free, but if there is a fee, it will be much smaller than the $30.00 fee required by the city.

Uffens Marketplace is a beautiful, urban venue, ripe for artists and performers, located just north of Pioneer Park at 336 West Broadway (300 South). If you‘ve never been there, it‘s a must-see. Having the historic Firestone building which houses Tony Caputo’s Market and Carlucci’s Bakery on one side, one can see this space becoming the year-round marketplace that is so charming in most major cities. Uffens even has its own mascot,. Petunia the Pig. Once you locate the hefty statue of Petunia, go up the stairs and you’ll see a series of large garage-type doors which open up to provide amazing space, inside or out. Artists and performers of all genres are encouraged to set up on the sidewalks in front of the garage doors, or inside the garage’s spacious areas.

It would benefit all public artists to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, while there is still space available. It took years for the Farmer’s Market to become the success that it is now, with the artists, farmers, and a supportive public working diligently together to make that happen. The artists of Salt Lake City are part of a unique and thriving arts community, and can successfully function together within that community without ill feelings toward each other. Uffens Marketplace is providing a way for the free-speech artists and the booth paying artists to co-exist together, with each maintaining their rights and dignities as artists. If you are an artist, or a performer, it would benefit you to take advantage of the incredible opportunity being offered at Uffens Marketplace.

For information on selling at Uffens Marketplace, call Jeff Martin at 792-4661, and check out their website at

Categories: Public Issues | Visual Arts

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