Arts Festival: will a Kimball move end its run on Main Street?
The Kimball Art Center leadership has put the landmark building on the market and says it plans to find a new headquarters location, almost certainly outside the Main Street core of Park City.
But the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival, one of the marquee events of the summer, is expected to stay on Main Street for at least the next two years. After that, though, it is not clear what will happen to the festival if the Kimball Art Center has moved by then.
City Hall and the not-for-profit art center in 2007 reached an agreement to keep the arts festival on Main Street, its traditional location, until 2011. The agreement renewed automatically for five years, through the festival in 2016, according to the municipal government.
The Park City Council in approving the deal agreed to a financial and government services package to support the arts festival. City Hall provides police services, transit, trash removal, street banners and pressure washing of Main Street, according to Jonathan Weidenhamer, the economic development manager for the municipal government.
City Hall as part of the agreement also provides $10,000 in cash annually to the event to assist with the admission-free Friday evening at the festival, another $5,000 each year to help with security along the perimeter and $8,000 in unspecified value-in-kind services.
The Kimball Art Center has said little publicly since it indicated in September that it plans to sell the property along Main Street and relocate. The move came after City Hall rejected the organization’s designs for a major expansion onto the art center’s patio at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue. Kimball Art Center officials said they would seek a new location. The property has been put on the market for $8 million.
It is not known whether the Kimball Art Center will move the arts festival off Main Street to a location closer to a new site once one is chosen. The development or the district where the Kimball Art Center ends up could, perhaps, encourage or insist that the arts festival be shifted to the new location as a means to boost business there as part of a relocation package.
A Kimball Art Center representative did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
The arts festival, held for the 45th time in August, remains a top draw during the summer, packing Main Street with art lovers and people who want to take in the scene of concerts, food and kids activities. Attendance was estimated at 58,000 with an estimated economic impact of $11.9 million, according to a City Hall report released this week in anticipation of a Park City Council discussion scheduled on Thursday about special events. The discussion is not expected to focus on the arts festival itself but the broader topic of special events in the city.
Weidenhamer said officials have spoken to the Kimball Art Center about the 2015 festival but not about a long-term deal to hold the festival at a certain location. The arts festival is tentatively scheduled to slightly alter its dates in 2015 to be held a week earlier than is usual, he said. The shift in dates, he said, would be made to accommodate the Tour of Utah bicycling race.
Weidenhamer said he prefers the arts festival remain on Main Street after the Kimball Art Center moves, calling the event a "prominent" one.
"It’s an event that’s been around a long time. It’s important to us," he said, noting the draw of cultural tourism in Park City.
Main Street businesses would likely closely follow any discussions about an arts festival move off the street. Sales at the brick-and-mortar businesses have long been mixed on the street during the festival, but the event brings widespread publicity to Main Street.
The executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a business group centered along Main Street, said the arts festival highlights the Kimball Art Center as well as Main Street. Alison Butz said Main Street has long seen the arts festival as a "classic, iconic event."
She said the Historic Park City Alliance has not polled businesses about the arts festival should the Kimball Art Center move. Butz said the organization has not discussed the future of the arts festival, but it has, at the executive committee level, spoken about the possibility of the Kimball Art Center relocating. Butz said she spoke briefly to City Hall about the agreement with the Kimball Art Center regarding the arts festival after it was announced the organization would seek a new location.
"The image . . . the brand," Butz said about the arts festival. "It’s all positive for Main Street."
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