Art Fest’s future considered
This weekend, Jim Simister for the 19th time will man a booth at the annual art festival on Main Street, selling his pottery to the hordes of people expected to attend.
Simister, who is from Coalville, sees Main Street as the best location for what is now known as the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, even as the future of what is widely seen as Park City’s signature summertime event is undecided.
"When people come up to Park City, to the art festival, they like that Main Street," Simister says. "It’s probably just the ambiance of it."
But City Hall and the Kimball Art Center, the festival’s organizer, do not have an agreement to hold the festival on Main Street past 2006. The two sides are currently operating under a one-year deal for this weekend’s edition.
The two sides, though, seem confident as this year’s festival unfolds that they will reach an accord to continue to hold the festival on Main Street, its home throughout its 37-year history.
At the Kimball, Pam Crowe-Weisberg, the nonprofit’s executive director, expects that the Kimball and the government will reach an agreement that will guarantee that the art festival will remain on Main Street for years.
"It’s extremely important. This is Park City’s summer event like Sundance is winter’s event," she says.
She says that it is her intention to keep the festival in its traditional location.
"That’s my goal. That’s my objective," Crowe-Weisberg says.
But in the past there has been some limited talk about moving the festival off Main Street. None of the ideas, though, seemed to draw lots of interest and the discussions never advanced into formalized plans.
The local mountain resorts have sometimes been mentioned as a potential location and, more recently, the Kimball put out feelers to Redstone Towne Center, the Kimball Junction shopping center. The Redstone talks, apparently more recent than those with other potential locations, were scrapped quickly, officials with Redstone and the Kimball have said.
The art festival is expected to draw more than 40,000 over the weekend and the Kimball, which uses the festival as its main annual fundraiser, hopes that it will bring in more than $175,000.
Park City Manager Tom Bakaly says that the government is interested in a long-term deal ensuring that the festival remains on Main Street. He says that the government and the Kimball have not entered into detailed talks yet and he expects that those talks will occur in late 2006 or early 2007.
"They are the second biggest festival (we) have. They are the size we’d like to talk to them about a longer-term agreement," Bakaly says.
The upcoming discussions will follow a year after City Hall and the Sundance Institute negotiated a deal to keep the annual film festival in Park City on a long-term basis, potentially through 2028.
The art festival is not as lucrative as Sundance but the government nonetheless has for years supported the Kimball’s efforts, including helping the festival with financial assistance.
Main Street merchants usually post mixed results during the art festival, with some saying that business dips because the festival-goers are not shopping for other goods and others reporting that the crowds line up for meals.
It is unclear what sort of lobbying effort the merchants would undertake regarding a long-term deal. Ken Davis, who led the merchants association earlier in the year, once said that the group prefers that the festival stay on Main Street but he described it as not a "must have."
Simister, the pottery artist, says most of the art festivals he has been selected for have been in downtowns. Once, though, he was selected for one in La Jolla, Calif., in a university’s parking lot.
"It wasn’t as quaint but it was OK," he says, adding that, should the Park City event switch locations, he would continue to set up a booth. "I wouldn’t throw up my arms . . . I’d move with them."
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