Arts festival freebie: only for locals this year |

Arts festival freebie: only for locals this year

Being a so-called ‘local’ could save someone $10 if they are headed to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival.

The Kimball Art Center, which organizes the annual festival, plans to charge people who are not from Summit County or do not have vacation homes in the county for entry on the event’s Friday night. That night, the opening hours of the festival, has traditionally been free admission for anyone.

Kimball officials, though, say many people were attending the festival on Friday night and then not coming back on Saturday or Sunday, when admission is charged. That cut into the amount of money the art center brought in during what is the largest fundraiser of the year for the not-for-profit Kimball.

Robin Marrouche, the executive director of the Kimball, said research has shown approximately three out of every four people who attend the festival on Friday night are not from Summit County. If they decided to not return over the weekend, they would not pay any admission fee.

"We were getting slammed with attendees," Marrouche said.

She estimated the Kimball did not bring in an additional approximately $30,000 in 2010 by allowing people from outside Summit County in for free on Friday and then not seeing them return as paying attendees on Saturday or Sunday.

"It was hurting us. It’s not fair to the locals who support us," she said. "It’s not a secret anymore."

In a memo submitted to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council, the Kimball said donation boxes put out on the Friday night of the festival in 2010 brought in a small amount of cash. The money "barely covered the cost of buying the donation boxes."

This year’s festival is scheduled from Aug. 5 until Aug. 7. Admission is set at $10 for the entire festival, meaning that someone could attend all three of the days after paying once. Marrouche said she anticipates the Friday of the festival will be "extremely busy" even with some people being charged admission. There is usually the largest selection of art available on Friday, she noted.

Marrouche said the organizers plan have two admission lines on Friday, one for people who qualify for free admission and one for people who do not. She said people will be asked for ZIP codes. They will not be required to present identification or utility bills with addresses, as is demanded in some other instances when residency must be determined. The Kimball considered a stricter requirement involving rental agreements or utility bills but backed off the tighter idea.

The festival remains one of the top events on Park City’s busy calendar, drawing big crowds to Main Street for what is widely seen as one of the region’s top art festivals. The Kimball counted 49,500 attendees in 2010. The numbers indicated more than 10,000 attended when admission was not charged on Friday approximately one out of every five people who attended over the three-day festival.

"As the secret of the historic ‘Free Friday night’ has become widely circulated by media outlets in Salt Lake City, non-Parkites are capitalizing on this opportunity. This usurious action harms the Kimball Art Center as the Arts Festival is our largest annual fundraiser," the memo to the elected officials said.

The leader of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents Main Street’s interests, said the group is not worried about attendance sliding on Friday night. Alison Butz, the executive director of the alliance, said she is pleased people with vacation homes will not be charged that night.

"That really is the first time people see art," Butz said. "There’s value to that."

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