Park City finds there is an art to planning a culture district |

Park City finds there is an art to planning a culture district

Josh Hobson leaves a message on a poster board at a recent open house centered on City Hall’s plans to create an arts and culture district in Park City. People at the open house left a wide range of opinions and comments about a district.

A group of Parkites recently learned there is an art to planning a culture district.

Park City officials in early November held an open house as City Hall continues the discussions about creating an arts and culture district in Bonanza Park. The event was one of the first opportunities for interested Parkites to learn about the details of the talks and provide input as officials craft ideas. It was an important step even though City Hall plans a series of gatherings centered on an arts and culture district in coming months.

The crowd at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City – The Yarrow listened to a consultant who specializes in assisting as cultural facilities are built and operated. The people at the event also wrote notes on poster boards describing their opinions of an arts and culture district.

Duncan Webb, the New York City-based consultant, spoke about the experiences of arts and culture districts, but the event was more an opportunity for the audience to provide comments. The event drew a medium-sized, mixed crowd of Parkites. Elected officials and City Hall staffers were present. The elected officials did not make extensive comments to the crowd.

The four people who were competing in the Park City Council contest attended. City Councilman Andy Beerman, a mayoral candidate at the time of the event, was there, but his opponent, former three-term Mayor Dana Williams, was not.

Marianne Cone, an artist who lives in Park Meadows and once served on the City Council, said in an interview she supported the efforts. She said she wants an arts and culture district to include outdoor gathering spaces in a pedestrian setting. An arts and culture district should have a "sense of exploration," she said.

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"You go in one place and out another," Cone said.

Cone would like a district to have an interpretive panel that highlights the other arts and culture offerings in Park City. She said the community has a history in arts and culture.

"People consider this an art town already. This makes sense to make a district," Cone said, describing that the designs of a district should feature buildings that do not soar above the surroundings. "You need a human scale. You don't want a Wall Street look."

The notes left on the poster boards, written anonymously, provided insight into the opinions about a district. People used markers to answer questions posed by the organizers.

On one of the boards, the organizers asked how someone envisions the look and feel of an arts and culture district. People wrote they wanted the look and feel to be "funky," "whimsical" and "not corporate."

"It would be cool to have something visually striking/iconic there," one person wrote. Another message encouraged the look and feel to be "out of the PC box. Should be unusual & brave. Not a copy of everything else in Park City."

"Minimize steel and stone. Make it earthy, warm and human," another person wrote.

Another board, meanwhile, sought information about what the crowd wants included in a district. The people in the comments said they wanted spaces where people can live and work, spots for small businesses and space for artists.

"Let artists create the (district) organically then art will truly thrive," one person said in a written comment.

One person, though, cautioned City Hall to "note the potential conflict of housing-residents-entertainment-noise."

The discussions about an arts and culture district are expected to be intensive as a critical Jan. 31 deadline approaches. City Hall plans to close on a $19.5 million acquisition of 5.25 acres in Bonanza Park by that date if leaders opt to move forward with the development of a district. The Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute's Utah headquarters are expected to anchor a district. There will be additional gatherings focused on an arts and culture district prior to Jan. 31.