Egyptian launches Save Our Banksy fundraiser
Ryan Summerlin July 11, 2014
During the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, famed U.K. graffiti artist known only as Banksy tagged one of the Egyptian Theatre’s stage doors.
The image "Dirty Rat," which depicts a white rat wearing 3D glasses, was found just prior to the premier of the film, "Exit Through the Gift Shop," a documentary about the elusive artist.
Theater manager Randy Barton saw the value in the work and put the door into storage. He planned to sell the art to help fund some of the theater’s programs because he had been told the work could be worth anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million.
Barton held onto the painting with the intent of auctioning it off, then he thought better of it because in the past couple of years, he and the Egyptian Theatre board of directors have come to some conclusions.
"One is the artist Banksy is not keen on the idea of street art becoming commercial art that is sold to wealthy individuals," Barton told The Park Record. "His art, as he states, is ‘put in public places for the enjoyment of the public.’"
Secondly, Barton realized how valuable a Banksy is to a small town. In fact, Park City, at one time, had up to six Banksy works, and three, including "Dirty Rat" remain.
"We’re lucky to be the home of Banksys," Barton said. "So it would be irresponsible and a mistake for us to let this piece of art go to someone’s private wall."
After talking with his board, Barton decided to try something unusual.
"We are asking for some support to save the Banksy and keep it here in Park City and display it outdoors where it belongs," Barton said. "We’re asking for donations for ‘SOB — Save Our Banksy’ fund."
The goal is to raise $3 million.
"We are hoping to get 30,000 people to donate $10 each to us, and we’re also looking for local philanthropists to donate the rest so we can put their names on the door," Barton said.
Everyone wins if the painting is preserved, he said.
"Banksy wins because his art will still be public and Park City wins because we will still have this valuable piece of art," he said. "If you look at where Banksy has been, it’s like a funny bumper sticker – New York, London, Paris and Park City."
Donations can be made by calling the theater at 435-649-9371 ex. 29 or online at events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=ll64dybab&oeidk=a07e9iqxwi5ca1ac9a6.
The Egyptian Theatre will also accept checks via mail at Save Our Banksy, The Egyptian Theatre, P.O. Box 3119, Park City, Utah, 84060
The city will help clean up what Barton calls "the breezeway," which is a small alley between the Egyptian Theatre and the building directly north.
The plans are to lower the ceiling and place cut out figures and panels depicting the history of theater and the Sundance Film Festival in Park City in that walkway, according to Barton.
"There will be little markers on the wall that explain the images," he said. "It will make that dark, urine-soaked pathway inviting."
Java Cow owner Ken Davis and the building owner Jim Tozer will step in to help protect the art.
When Banksy created an image of a filmmaker shooting a scene of an uprooted flower on the east side of Java Cow. Davis and Tozer framed the work in bulletproof glass.
"They will use bulletproof glass and cameras, good lighting and vigilance to protect our Banksy," Barton said.
A portion of the money raised will also help the Egyptian Theatre to acquire space for its YouTheatre program, which has offered professional theater training to children in grades K through 12, for the past 20 years in the basement of the Park City Mall.
"We knew the mall was going to be remodeled and we’re not too optimistic about acquiring that space," he said.
YouTheatre director Jamie Wilcox said she would love to find a home for the program.
"We’ve been trying to decide how we were going to make that happen preferably on Main Street, because the Egyptian is on Main Street," Wilcox said. "Money is always an issue, especially for nonprofits like us."
Currently, Wilcox splits YouTheatre sessions, which have grown over the years, between one room at the Egyptian Theatre and rented rooms at Park City High School.
"The room at the Egyptian is actually a working office and the staff is very supportive of the program and make do, but it does get hard when we have the kids and the people are working," she said. "This week we have two camps running at the high school in seven classrooms. And this isn’t even the biggest camp of the season."
For more information about the Egyptian Theatre’s "SOB — Save Our Banksy" campaign, visit www.parkcityshows.com.