City Hall strikes Sundance deal
The Sundance Film Festival, the biggest event on Park City’s calendar, will be held locally through 2018 and potentially for a decade after that under the terms of a deal struck between City Hall and the Sundance Institute on Thursday.
To applause, the Park City Council approved the agreement, which runs from 2007 until 2018 and includes a 10-year option. Sundance’s board of trustees supports the deal as well.
The two sides see the deal as pivotal.
For the government, the agreement ensures that the film festival, which generates significant sales taxes, stays on a long-term basis. There had been statements previously that Sundance could shift the festival to another city.
Meanwhile, Sundance says that the accord allows it to stage a festival that stays in the black and the deal makes it possible for the institute to move its year-round Utah headquarters from Salt Lake City to Park City.
"Park City is a big part of the reason the film festival is successful," said Jill Miller, the institute’s managing director, adding, "Park City and the Sundance Film Festival have really grown up together."
Park City agreed to pay Sundance $220,000 each year and the Park City Chamber/Bureau will pay $160,000 each year, up from the $50,000 it had given.
The financial inducements were needed as a result of the headquarters move.
Sundance received more than $500,000 in Salt Lake County zoo, arts and parks funding in 2005 and Miller said, under the current Salt Lake County funding guidelines, Sundance would not be eligible for the money after the move, known widely as ‘ZAP’ funding.
Miller said the headquarters move will streamline Sundance’s operations, allow Sundance staffers to be more involved with Park City and bring Sundance into what she describes as a strong and vibrant arts community.
She said the talks leading to the agreement were not tense, describing the deal as a "win-win."
"I don’t feel like it was a tough negotiation," Miller said.
Sundance has agreed to consider switching the dates of the festival, which is held each January. But Miller said Sundance must remain the first scheduled festival on the international-film circuit and, currently, that requires the festival be held at about the same time each year.
Before the vote, representatives from Park City’s lodging industry, the local restaurant association, Main Street and the Park City Chamber/Bureau testified in favor of the deal.
The support from the business community was expected. According to Sundance, in 2005, the film festival generated $36.5 million in economic activity in Park City. City Hall has said that festival-related direct and indirect economic impact in Summit County amounts to $41 million each year.
Sundance plans to move its headquarters to the Silver Star project on the edge of Thaynes Canyon, where the developers will renovate a machine shop and a saw mill leftover from the city’s silver-mining era.
"I plan to make it one of the nicest spaces in town," Silver Star developer Rory Murphy said after the vote.
Murphy said Sundance will move in on Aug. 20, 2006 and occupy 5,000 square feet. Sundance will occupy another 5,000 square feet at Silver Star on a temporary basis in the winter, he said. Miller said earlier in the week that 30 year-round Sundance staffers will work at Silver Star and, in the period around the film festival, the number would grow to more than 100.
"I am honored and thrilled to host what I consider and what the community considers to be such a prestigious and well-run organization," he said.
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