An Artist at the Table raises funds for Sundance Institute artists |

An Artist at the Table raises funds for Sundance Institute artists

Sundance Institute’s An Artist at the Table brings together artists, donors, filmmakers and independent film aficionados to exchange ideas and raise funds for indie film projects.
Photo by Ian Tilghman

Thursday, Jan. 24 Utah Film Studios, 4001 Kearns Blvd. $1,250 to $2,500

Since 2009, the Sundance Institute has provided indie film supporters the opportunity to sit down with filmmakers, actors, composers and other creators at An Artist at the Table, a fundraising event that will be held this year on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The evening is a fundraiser for the Sundance Institute that starts with a screening of the Sundance Film Festival’s Opening Day Film, which is usually introduced by Sundance Institute Founder Robert Redford, and continues with dinner and guest-speaker presentations, said Josie McGuinn, Sundance Institute special events director.

“The mission of the fundraiser is to champion the next generation of groundbreaking voices,” McGuinn said. “We want to raise revenue that can go back to supporting independent artists, along with creating community and visibility for our organization.”

This year’s An Artist at the Table will be held Thursday, Jan. 24. The event, sponsored by the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, according to McGuinn.

I can’t (reveal) what those are, but they will surely enhance the guests’ experience…” Josie McGuinn, Sundance Institute special events director

“I have been around since the first year we did (it), so I personally am very proud to be involved in an event that is so key to our mission,” she said. “It’s been wonderful to see where we’ve come from 165 guests 10 years ago to hosting more than 500.”

McGuinn is also proud of the increased funds each year’s edition of the event has brought to independent filmmakers.

“We have moved the dial of our revenue from $200,000 (at the beginning) to last year, when we raised $650,000,” she said. “This year we hope to break the $1 million barrier.”

The money benefits independent artists through grants, mentorships and other resources to help bring their stories to the screen, McGuinn said.

At the beginning of the evening, guests will attend the 5:30 p.m. screening of Bart Freundlich’s “After the Wedding” at the Eccles Theatre.

“After the Wedding” is based on the Oscar-nominated film by Susanne Bier. The cast features Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Billy Crudup and Abby Quinn.

“It’s a thought-provoking film with a great cast,” McGuinn said. “It takes place at a wedding where mysteries start to unravel.”

After a question and answer session with filmmakers, guests will then head to the Utah Film Studio, where An Artist at the Table will continue on Stage One, according to McGuinn.

“This is the first time Utah Film Studios is hosting the event, and we are embracing the uniqueness of the venue,” she said. “Since this is a studio, there will sure be some unexpected components for the evening. I can’t (reveal) what those are, but they will surely enhance the guests’ experience.”

There is also an option to attend only the activity at the studios, McGuinn said.

Upon arrival, guests will be able to enjoy cocktails and appetizers before sitting down with filmmakers and actors, she said.

“The audience we bring together in the room include major donors – both individual and corporate – (and) press and film industry insiders who sit at each table with the artists and create dialogue about the work they are doing at the Sundance Institute,” McGuinn said.

Some of the artists in attendance will include award-winning actress Glenn Close, actress Sheila Vand and award-winning documentary filmmakers Morgan Neville (“Won’t You Be My Neighbor”) and Jeff Orlowski (“Chasing Ice”).

“They range from people who have been around for the past 30 or more years to newer artists who are known for different accomplishments in independent film,” McGuinn said.

The evening’s program will center around the artists who are in attendance at the event and allow time for engagement and conversation at the tables, she said.

Some of the attending artists will give presentations that will touch on all the different programs the Sundance Institute offers, McGuinn said. The list of speakers has not yet been finalized.

The food will be provided by LUX Catering and Events.

“This is their first time working with us on this event,” McGuinn said. “We put out a formal Request for Propositions this year. And they were able to keep the cost low, because we want more money to go back to the artists. We have full confidence of them executing the event in a venue that isn’t really designed for this type of event.”

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