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Mountain Town Stages takes on new venue

When grass conquers snow and Deer Valley Resort’s crowd trades their heavy plastic boots and goggles for picnic baskets, visitors and locals find their way to free Wednesday Night concerts at the heel of the mountain.

The tradition will continue beginning mid-June, but this year under different management: Park City Performing Arts Foundation (PCPAF) has "passed the baton" to Mountain Town Stages. Sponsorship has also changes hands, from Wells Fargo to Frontier Bank.

PCPAF’s executive director Teri Orr says the expanded schedule for "Big Stars, Bright Lights" — PCPAF’s other summer series, which requires a ticket — left little time to organize the free Wednesday series.

"What’s really happened is I continue to have the same wonderful small staff and we continue to grow into what we want to present and the level of what we want to present and the bigger the act, the more work it is, and so we couldn’t do both," she said.

The Wednesday concert series was started by the Park City Chamber/Bureau in Park City’s City Park before PCPAF took it over five years ago.

The series soon outgrew its 499-person master festival permit in town, and three years ago the series moved to Deer Valley, says Orr. The concerts last year exceeded a 1,200-person average nearly every Wednesday evening.

"The concerts on Wednesday nights are loved by the community and it’s a great free event for the community and we didn’t want to see that go away, we just wanted to find someone else to present it," Orr explained. "Deer Valley Resort, who is a terrific partner, wanted to see it continue at the resort as well."

It seemed like a "logical split" to offer it to Mountain Town Stages because they’re already in the business of presenting local entertainment, she said.

The decision was finalized two and half weeks ago, according to Mountain Town Stages’ new executive director Martin.

All tolled, the added eight-concert package at Deer Valley, as well as a new deal to help organize music for the Kimball Art Center’s Art Festival, means Mountain Town Stages will be responsible for more than 100 concerts, says Martin. The nonprofit already operates five venues throughout the summertime: a stage in Peoa, two stages at the bottom of Main Street in Park City, The Canyons and a stage at Quarry Village.

But "We’re not trying to become the thousand-pound gorilla," Martin assures. "We’re just trying to create as much music as we can and as often as possible It takes a lot of effort and it’s challenging, but it’s exciting to be involved with so much music."

For the Wednesday evening series at Deer Valley, Mountain Town Stages will continue to abide by the unwritten rule: at least one member of the band must be a Summit County resident, says Martin. But the sound will be varied, he says. The organization hopes to incorporate country rock to bluegrass to acoustic folk.

"It worked out because Deer Valley has been wonderful in supporting us and the minute I mentioned the opportunity to [Frontier Bank] they stepped right in," he explained.

Park City’s Fontier Bank has been a long-time supporter of the now seven-years-old Mountain Town Stages, according to the bank’s president, Andrew Volkman.

"As soon as he told me about [the Deer Valley summer concert series] I wanted to do it and we responded in less than 24 hours," Volkman confirmed. "It’s the kind of sponsorship we like to do it’s good exposure for the bank, but it’s also a community-based event and something that we have throughout the summer, and the confluence of all those things made it really appealing."

When Martin signed on as executive director at the beginning of the year, he had hoped to expand the nonprofit and so far, he has hired an assistant and will be hiring a full-time summer intern as well. However, it’s difficult to expand, and continue to put on free concerts, when most of the money goes to musicians themselves.

Martin hopes that businesses and individuals will additionally step forward to sponsor concerts individually. For $500, private sponsors will be able to get reserved lawn seating for a Wednesday night, and be recognized on stage for their contribution.

For more information about the Park City Performing Arts Foundation visit http://www.ecclescenter.org . For details about Mountain Town Stages, visit http://www.mountaintownstages.com .


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