As the Kimball Art Center moves, the arts festival will likely stay put |

As the Kimball Art Center moves, the arts festival will likely stay put

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

The Kimball Art Center has sold its building and is preparing to leave its longtime location along Main Street shortly.

It seems likely, though, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival will remain on Main Street even as the not-for-profit art center that organizes the event moves off the street.

The Kimball Art Center recently sold its property to a developer and plans to move into a temporary space in the fall as the organization’s leadership considers ideas for a permanent facility.

The arts festival, one of Park City’s centerpiece special events, draws large crowds to Main Street each summer. Festival attendees peruse the artworks just steps from the art center itself.

The Kimball Art Center and City Hall last renegotiated a contract to hold the arts festival on Main Street in 2007. That agreement called for the event to be held on Main Street from 2007 until 2011. The deal automatically renewed for five years, through the 2016 festival.

the time of the 2016 festival, the Kimball Art Center is expected to be in its temporary location. The Kimball Art Center leadership will almost certainly be scouting possible permanent locations if one has not been finalized by then as well.

The temporary space will be in a building on Kearns Boulevard, the former location of a religious organization called The Branch — a Vineyard Community. It is situated in the Bonanza Park district, a swath of Park City where major redevelopment seems likely in coming years. There has been speculation that a spot somewhere in Bonanza Park could be the eventual permanent location for the Kimball Art Center.

Even if the Kimball Art Center itself is located off Main Street, there is support to hold the arts festival along the street on a long-term basis. An art center representative said just before the 2015 edition of the event the organization is committed to Main Street.

Kathy Kennedy, the managing director of the Kimball Art Center, noted the atmosphere along Main Street as she described the desire to keep the festival in the same location. Main Street adds "a certain personality" to the festival, she said.

"Park City’s part of our core. It’s where we’ve been for so long . . . It’s a beautiful venue," Kennedy said, describing that the historic buildings along Main Street add to the event.

Kennedy said the Kimball Art Center plans to begin talks with City Hall about a new contract prior to the festival in 2016 with the goal of reaching an agreement that situates the festival on Main Street. She said the event would lose atmosphere if it was held in a large parking lot, a scenario that would be likely if the festival was moved elsewhere.

City Hall officials are expected to support the Kimball Art Center’s goal of keeping the festival on Main Street. The negotiations will unfold in coming months. Jonathan Weidenhamer, who manages City Hall’s economic development programs and will be heavily involved in the talks with the Kimball Art Center, said the festival has long been an "anchor event." It grew over the years from a festival that drew a local attendance to one that attracts people from out of town, he said.

"There seems to be very strong support to continue the event over the years," Weidenhamer said.

He anticipates support from Park City’s elected officials to keep the arts festival on Main Street. Weidenhamer said talks between City Hall and the Kimball Art Center about another agreement could start informally soon after this year’s event. It is not clear when an agreement will be presented to Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council, though.

The agreement in place now involves a financial incentives from City Hall totaling $23,000 annually. The incentives include $10,000 to fund free admission for Summit County residents on the Friday of the festival, $5,000 for security along the perimeter and $8,000 worth of additional services provided by the municipal government. The Park City Chamber/Bureau also agreed to assist the festival financially as a result of the negotiations.

The Historic Park City Alliance is another party that will be involved in the talks about the art festival’s future on Main Street. Alison Butz, the executive director of the group, said the organization has not discussed the topic but plans to late in the fall.

Butz said the group plans to conduct a survey of members in the fall centered on the festival’s future. Some businesses enjoy strong sales during the event while others do not, she said. Butz, though, said the number of festival-goers who later return to Main Street cannot be tracked.

She acknowledged the arts festival creates issues for Main Street businesses, such as making it more difficult for employees to get to work and to receive deliveries. Butz also said the arts festival is "iconic."

"I think the festival and Main Street go together," Butz said.

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