Hey! What’s the Big Idea? | ParkRecord.com
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Hey! What’s the Big Idea?

by Nan Chalat-Noaker, Record editor

The evening’s presenters included, among others, an oceanographer, an interior designer, a yoga teacher and a chocolatier, and guests were encouraged to indulge intellectually, artistically and gastronomically. The scene, atop Deer Crest at Deer Valley, was reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century European salon, or in keeping with the mountain setting, a chautauqua, that uniquely American traveling show that combined lectures, entertainment and inspiration.

But never mind the nomenclature. For the moment, the Park City Performing Arts Foundation (PCPAF) is just calling it "The Big Idea."

According to the foundation’s executive director, Teri Orr, PCPAF’s core programming will still revolve around the performing arts but the board is hoping to expand into the visual arts, culinary arts and sciences.

"We are going to blow ourselves up, in a good way," she laughs, admitting that the precise format is still largely undefined.

The goal, Orr explains is to gather people together who appear to be unrelated in disciplines and thought processes: a brain surgeon and a comedian, for example.

For the last 11 years PCPAF has concentrated on bringing live performances to the Eccles Center at Park City High School. It has also established a unique educational outreach program, inviting students from around the county to attend an eclectic array of dance, music and theater productions and often allowing them to meet with and learn from the performers.

But, inspired by her participation in two recent conferences, EG and TED, Orr hopes to broaden the organization’s scope.

EG (short for Entertainment Gathering), founded in 2006, describes itself as a celebration of creativity. Orr attended the 2007 EG conference at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and says it launched her on a "personal evolution." Her subsequent experience at the Aspen Institute with TED, a group exploring new ideas in technology, entertainment and design, solidified her commitment to expand PCPAF’s mission.

And the board enthusiastically agreed.

"I am not a former ballerina or a bassoonist, but I am an extraordinary audience member, in all disciplines," Orr explains.

Which is why the list of presenters at last week’s "Evening of Exploration ran the gamut, including Leigh Von der Esch of the Utah office of Tourism, designer Barclay Butera, musician and consultant Neill Archer Roan, international chef Merle van der Merwe, oceanographic explorer David Gallo, painter Greg Ragland, chanteuse/yoga guru Lisa Needham and Susan Kwon of Vosges Haut Chocolat.

According to Orr, PCAF hosted a smaller introduction to "The Big Idea" last spring. Last week’s event at the Ski Dream House in Deer Valley, was a ‘coming out’ party/fundraiser and will be followed another event in the spring.

So far, she says, the community has been extremely receptive to the whole concept. Von der Esch suggested an institute-type conference in Park City could add an element of intellectual tourism to the state’s draw. Roan, who flew in for the evening from Washington, D.C., was also enthusiastic, describing Park City’s a vortex of talent.

For now though, Orr refrains from putting too fine a point on "The Big Idea."

"It is a concept, but I am sure something extraordinary is going to happen."

She added that anyone who is curious about, or would like to support PCAF’s new effort can call 655-8252.


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