Local arts nonprofits creatively ask the community for support
As Park City’s COVID-19-induced self-isolation continues, many local arts nonprofits are feeling the hit.
Egyptian Theatre Manager Randy Barton made the decision to shutter the venue last weekend just before the sold-out, three-night run of the progressive jam band moe. Park City Film went dark around that same time and the Kimball Art Center is in the process of moving many of its art-class instructions to its website.
While the end date of the isolation may change, these three entities are preparing to do what it takes to open their doors when the time comes.
After being closed for more than a full week, which included the cancellation of YouTheatre’s “Night Witches” premiere, the Egyptian Theatre has already felt the financial consequences, Barton said.
“We went from a thousands-of-dollars-a-day income to zero,” he said. “We have had to reduce staff, and we have had to cut back on all purchases and expenditures.”
The theatre also had to put a hold on the YouTheatre buildout, which helped purchase a YouTheatre rehearsal and performance space as well as equipment, so it could hold on to the money allocated to the program, according to Barton.
“We were in the process of buying equipment, but needed to stop that as well,” he said.
The Egyptian Theatre is still planning to open on May 7 to accommodate a three-night stand by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter KT Tunstall, Barton said, but the annual “Park City Follies” musical fundraiser run is still up in the air.
“We’re still undetermined what will happen with that because it’s scheduled to open two weeks before KT Tunstall,” Barton said.
Through the uncertainty, the theater, which has a schedule booked through October, is turning to the public to help.
“We have people who have purchased tickets way out there, and as the shows drop off, as we have had to do, we are not only losing income from those shows, we are refunding money,” he said. “So when we cancel a show we will offer full cash refunds, but we will also ask ticket-buyers to consider accepting a gift card to the theatre rather than asking for cash back.”
Another way the public can help is to continue buying tickets for future performances, or signing their children up for the YouTheatre summer camps, Barton said.
“We have some shows coming up in June and July, the months when we will need to get back onto our feet,” Barton said.
The third and fourth way for the public to help are to make a flat donation or become Pharaoh Club members.
Both can be done by visiting the Egyptian Theatre’s website, parkcityshows.com. Donations can also be made by mailing checks to P.O. Box 3119, Park City, Utah 84060.
“When people become a club member, they become part of our family that supports us on a year-round basis,” Barton said.
Pharaoh Club benefits include fine dining vouchers, Sundance Film Festival tickets, preferred seating, Park City Mountain Resort passes and invitations to social events.
Barton knows the Egyptian Theatre isn’t the only organization that feels the punches from the COVID-19 restrictions, but he hopes people will keep the venue in mind during this time.
“The theatre has been here a long time and has seen many ups and downs and crises, but if everybody will keep their chins up, we can get through this,” he said. ‘We’re a small town, and we love our patrons and neighbors, and we wish for the best. We’re doing everything we can and hanging on for as long as we can.”
Park City Film
Like the Egyptian Theatre, Park City Film has had to suspend programming, especially because many of its patrons are older and fit the at-risk demographic, according to Executive Director Katharine Wang.
“Our patrons, staff, and volunteers have an obligation to not create places for people to gather and potentially be a health hazard,” Wang said. “Community safety is of a paramount importance for us.”
Still, dealing with a financial concerns wasn’t what Wang had in mind when she was planning the Film Series’ 25th anniversary, but she said the nonprofit will be able to withstand the closure thanks to the support it has received from the community.
“A lot of our grants come from sales tax revenue thanks to RAP tax, but we have, fortunately, a robust membership that we’ve grown over the past few years,” she said. “And that has given us the ability to do this and come back.”
Wang knew from the start that she needed to pay her staff, including her hourly workers, as if the closure didn’t happen.
“It’s our obligation to them,” she said. “They have been with us through thick and thin and we need to stand by them.”
There is still the concern that the self-isolation will continue longer than anticipated, so Wang is also asking the community to help.
“We are accepting memberships and donations throughout the closure,” she said. “We will postdate any new memberships to start when we reopen, and any existing memberships, of course, will be bumped to account for the closure.”
Memberships start at $55, and there is no limit on the amount people can give after that, according to Wang.
Membership benefits include discount tickets to Park City Film screenings, invitations to exclusive membership events, and discounts to other arthouse theaters.
In addition to purchasing memberships, the public can also purchase movie tickets for future screenings, or one or more 10-punch passes.
“People have been buying the passes as gift cards, because we don’t offer gift cards right now,” Wang said. “These passes never expire. We have been taking them for 25 years.”
Memberships, tickets, punch passes and donations can be purchased at parkcityfilm.org.
In addition to financial help Park City Film is utilizing its curatorial skills to recommend films to its patrons, Wang said.
“There are so many things available online,” she said. “So we still want to keep in touch with our film-loving community to show them what platforms are available, and to direct them to things they may have missed or that they may not be aware of.”
Wang is also working with the arthouse community on other film-viewing options.
“We are looking to see if there is any opportunity to bring newer films online and make them available to our members and patrons,” she said. “Hopefully at the end of this we will have a community boom and be stronger. We look forward to getting together again to share that experience of storytelling, idea-sharing and start interesting dialogue with our friends and neighbors.”
Kimball Art Center
The Kimball Art Center is also looking at online streaming as a way to connect with its patrons and art students, said Amy Roberts, director of marketing and communications.
The nonprofit is taking cues from the late Bob Ross, who offered painting classes on PBS.
“We’re channeling our inner Bob Ross to figure out how to do this situation,” Roberts said with a laugh. “We are moving as many of our arts classes to online, and helping people work with what they have at home. Unfortunately, some require advanced materials that many people probably don’t have at home.”
The classes will be offered through the Zoom app and Facebook Live, she said.
“We are working very hard to make sure we still are a source of inspiration and have a virtual connection, for the time being, with the community,” Roberts said.
In addition to general art classes, the Kimball Art Center has also posted lesson plans that kids typically have access to in school on its website, kimballartcenter.org.
All the elementary visual arts (EVA) lesson plans on line and our Arts Tours lesson plans on line, according to Roberts.
“The challenge for us is to make sure people will get quality content and learn from experts,” she said. “Most of our staff are professional artists, and we will utilize them as much as we can, and at the same time we need to be responsible with our financial resources. Us, like many arts organizations, are struggling. And we are trying to keep our staff employed and pay our rent.”
The art center also offers virtual birthday parties, bridal showers and bachelorette parties, Roberts said.
“Creativity is not canceled,” she said. “In times of uncertainty, art matters more than ever. It is the ultimate unifier that binds us. It generates social capital, and it strengthens the character of the community.”
Donations, Kimball Art Center memberships, summer-camp registration and future art-class registration are four ways the public can help the nonprofit sustain itself, Roberts said.
The public can sign up for summer camps, and arts classes, for adults, children and families, which are scheduled to start in June, she said.
The money is all refundable if the classes and camps are canceled, but registrants can opt for a partial refund or waive the refund and donate the money to the Kimball Art Center, Roberts said.
“Once this is over, people will create a social connection again, and Kimball Art Center is a source for that human need,” she said. “We’re going to thrive. We just need the community’s support to keep us going through this uncertain time.”
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