Arts fest: green and white presidential portraits were popular |

Arts fest: green and white presidential portraits were popular

by Jay Hamburger The Park Record

Portraits of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant the faces on the $5, $20 and $50 bills were some of the popular pieces of art during last summer’s Park City Kimball Arts Festival.

The Kimball Art Center, the organizer of the annual festival on Main Street, has reported that the three-day festival in 2011 generated $18.2 million in economic impact, beating the previous year by a wide margin.

The Kimball submitted the number to City Hall in October in a memo from the Kimball’s executive director, Robin Marrouche. City Hall released the memo this week in anticipation of a discussion about the festival between the Kimball administration and the Park City Council.

Spending by people attending the arts festival accounted for nearly all of the money that was put into the economy. Increased taxes collected by City Hall and the County Courthouse made up a tiny portion of the economic impact.

According to the Kimball’s report, spending categories included:

  • the arts festival itself, which accounted for $7.2 million. Money spent at the arts festival included admission, art sales and concession sales.
  • retail, which accounted for a little more than $3.3 million.
  • restaurants, which accounted for $3.2 million
  • hotels, which accounted for just less than $3 million
  • unspecified other sales, which accounted for $921,731

    "It’s the largest event of the year outside the Sundance Film Festival," Marrouche said in describing the economic impact of the arts festival.

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    The economic impact jumped sharply between 2010 and 2011, up 71.7 percent on a year-over-year basis. Marrouche said people visiting Park City for the festival spent an average of $674 per day in 2011, topping the previous year by a wide margin.

    The memo to the elected officials indicated 55,000 people attended the festival in 2011, an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. They came from 41 states and Canada. More than one-third of the people 35 percent were visiting Park City from outside of Utah. Marrouche said the festival can continue to grow at a similar clip.

    Marrouche said festival organizers have altered their marketing strategy to position the event as a three-day extravaganza instead of one that lasts two days. The festival traditionally was held on a Saturday and a Sunday. The Kimball, though, launches the event on the Friday evening before nowadays. The Friday evening opening, which was free to attend at first, quickly became a popular time to attend.

    The Kimball in 2011 charged admission on Friday evening for the first time, targeting people not considered local to Park City or surrounding Summit County. Friday evening was a "great contributor" to the overall numbers in 2011, Marrouche said.

    She acknowledged that better weather during the 2011 festival also helped push up the numbers.

    The 2011 edition was the 42nd for the arts festival, which is typically the busiest summer weekend on Park City’s calendar. Main Street is closed to traffic in favor of artist booths, entertainment and food and beverage booths.

    The City Council meeting is scheduled on Thursday at the Marsac Building starting at 4:30 p.m. Topics are expected to include the impact of Main Street restaurants’ dining decks on the layout of the festival.