Park City art galleries organize an association
Some new developments are afoot at the Kimball Art Center. This coming weekend, as the organization hosts its monthly Last Fridays Arts and Eats Gallery Stroll, the Kimball will unveil The Park City Gallery Association.
The association is a group of 23 Park City-area art galleries organized by the Kimball and represents one of the first times in years that businesses will have a specific organization to represent them.
"We had one years ago and I think it was good for us," said Judy Summer, the owner of Artworks Gallery.
She said the old gallery association fell by the wayside about 10 years ago and since then, few if any efforts have been made to organize Park City’s art sellers. But she said the new change is a welcome one.
"I think the galleries need to look out for themselves," said Summer. "I don’t think that we really, at this time, have a unified presence, so it’s hard to say, ‘There’s a lot of galleries here, this is an arts place.’"
Kimball executive director Pam Crowe-Weisberg was the first to conceive the new gallery association. She said the idea came to her soon after she took her current position at the art center.
"I think it came pretty quickly because there are so many galleries in Park City, and they have one in Salt Lake City and it works so well," she said.
The association, she added, allows the galleries to project a united front. The participating establishments will all take part in the Kimball’s gallery strolls and will be listed on a single brochure that will be available for the rest of the year.
"There’s just so many benefits to having an association," said Susan Thomas, the public relations manager at the Kimball and the gallery association’s principal organizer.
For the Kimball, the gallery association will provide a more efficient framework for the monthly gallery strolls. Previously, the galleries participated on a monthly basis, paying $75 to participate in the events each month. Now, the participating galleries will be charged yearly dues of $1,200, and all will participate. While the Kimball used to print new brochures with reorganized lineups each month now the organization will simply use the same ones, saving a significant amount of time and money and allowing the organization to redirect some of its resources.
"A big goal is to start promoting the gallery stroll in Park City, but also in Salt Lake [City] and other media outlets," Thomas added.
But, Thomas noted, while the establishments supported the changes to the gallery stroll, their principal interests were elsewhere. Talking to the Kimball, Thomas said the galleries expressed a desire for the gallery association to provide promotional opportunities, a chance to pool advertisement dollars and increase attendance.
"All of those things are so beneficial," noted Thomas.
But while the Kimball stepped up to organize the association, the organization has no intentions of controlling it. Crowe-Weisberg said the Kimball, in its capacity as the community art center, decided to start the group as a public service, but she said that the Kimball would work as a team with the other for-profit galleries in town.
"We’re here to serve the community," said Crowe-Weisberg. "That’s our goal."
Summer expressed her gratitude for the organization’s role in forming the association.
"I think that I am personally very grateful to the Kimball for stepping up to do this," she said.
The gallery owners, she added, need to control their own destinies. And while she or another gallery owner might not personally agree with all of the Kimball’s aims and actions, no one else took the initiative to start the group.
"You have to step up," she said. "If you don’t step up, you have to just put some tape across your mouth."
But, she added, the gallery association is a great start.
"I very much appreciate Pam’s role in getting it going," she said.
Currently, the 23 galleries participating represent about two thirds of the total galleries in Park City. Among those in the association are 20 Main Street establishments, plus the Iron Horse and Julie Nester galleries, which are both located on Bonanza Drive, and The Redstone Gallery, which is located in the Redstone Towne Center in Kimball Junction. Thomas said the art center was happy with the response.
"We were hoping for 20 and we’re thrilled to get more than 20," she said. "We might have even more next year."
Some businesses, she noted, declined to join because of the financial burden and a few others said they were waiting to see the results the group returned. So with some success, the association could return larger for 2007.
Crowe-Weisberg said the gallery association has tremendous potential as a promotional tool.
"There’s a lot more to offer here than just skiing," she said, noting the group’s variety of arts-related attractions from the Egyptian Theatre Company to the summertime concerts and art galleries.
"It’s just something that I think we have not promoted enough," she added, "the cultural aspects."
According to Thomas, the new format for the gallery stroll will begin in March, on the 31st, when the event joins with the art center’s other monthly event, Jazz Night at the Kimball.
"The gallery stroll that is this month is the last of the old ones," Thomas said.
And with brochures now available and meetings taking place, the Park City Gallery Association is just getting rolling.
"I’m very anxious," said Summer, "to see this get going again."
For more information about the Park City Gallery Association, contact the Kimball Art Center at 649-8882 or http://www.kimball-art.org.
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