Kimball Art Center wants to make annual arts fest free for everyone
The Kimball Art Center intends to make the annual arts festival along Main Street a free event in 2020, eliminating what has been a $15 entry to one of the top special events on the Park City calendar.
A Kimball Art Center official outlined the plans in a letter to City Hall that was released early in the week in anticipation of a Park City Council meeting about the event scheduled on Thursday.
Canice Harte, the events manager for the Kimball Art Center, said in the one-page letter a core value of the not-for-profit organization “is to provide art access to all, which complements the City’s social equity initiative.”
“We understand a $15 entry fee is prohibitive to some, frustrating to others, and many Main Street businesses are not supportive (of) having a fee,” the letter from Harte said.
However, the letter said, the event is the largest fundraiser for the Kimball Art Center and is important to the organization’s budget. Harte said eliminating the admission charge requires the Kimball Art Center to increase revenues in another fashion.
The letter said the Kimball Art Center wants to increase the number of artist booths as it attempts to make up for the lost revenues from the elimination of the admission charge. The organizers want to extend the artist booths on 9th Street in the direction of Deer Valley Drive, the letter said, describing the scenario as similar to that of the Park Silly Sunday Market in the summer and fall. The letter also said the Kimball Art Center has contacted Marriott’s Summit Watch on lower Main Street about the possibility of locating artist booths in the lodging property’s courtyard.
A City Hall report about the topic indicates the Kimball Art Center envisions a 10 percent increase in attendance as a result of the elimination of the admission charge, to a crowd of 57,200 next year. City Hall staffers, though, say the number could be much higher, perhaps increasing by 60 percent. The report says if crowds swelled by that much, “major changes” to the municipal services would be required to meet the crowd size.
“Staff is concerned that impacts from Free the Fest may significantly increase regional attendance (drive traffic), strain on staffing and infrastructure and their associated negative impacts including Transportation related community goals during a time that is already defined as a Peak Time Period. These may hurt the quality of the event, and surely increase City costs such as Police, Transit, Transportation Planning, Building, Streets, Building Maintenance/Parks,” the report, drafted by Jenny Diersen, who is the special event and economic development program manager at City Hall, says.
The Kimball Art Center also says the extension of the artist booths would require an alteration of a festival bus route and traffic restrictions on Swede Alley from Friday until Sunday of the event weekend.
The City Council is scheduled to address the proposed changes to the arts festival at a meeting starting at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building. The agenda indicates public input will be taken.
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