Park City arts community stands united
Park City’s arts community stood united before the city council Thursday night, with Egyptian Theatre Manager Randy Barton leading a parade of local arts leaders to advocate for more support from the city.
Barton referred to the effort as the 2015-16 Cultural Initiative, and he told the council it was a long time coming.
"We are determined to act cohesively as a group," he said. "We have not sufficiently done this in the past."
Barton said the group’s address was not meant to be confrontational; rather, their goal was simply to show how widespread the desire is in the arts community for more support, and not just from the city.
"This partnership will include our organizations, public/government entities, individual, business and foundation support," he said. "Huge opportunity exists. With dedicated participation from all groups, deep societal impacts can be made and major economic benefits will result."
Barton said the group’s biggest request is that the city show as much support for the arts as it does for recreation.
"Why do we spend what we do on recreation but not on arts and culture? Why are there departments for recreation and not for culture and arts? We value recreation, trails, parks and open spaces — and we are users. We are asking to be represented equally."
Barton said other cities like Aspen, Austin and even Salt Lake City have cultivated their arts communities and Park City can borrow ideas from them. Finally, he asked that a blue ribbon committee be formed, a "Cultural Initiative Group," that would gather input and establish priorities and seek out other funding opportunities.
"We request participation from Park City, Summit County, the Chamber/Bureau, our arts community and citizens at large. We ask that this committee be given a specific, reasonable time frame to report back with recommendations and specific requests for changes and/or implementation of local policy."
Mountain Town Music Board President Matt Hutchinson said one of the issues his and other organizations face is in funding.
"[We are] largely supported by individual donors and grant funds," he said. "And those funds are restricted to operations and cannot be used for capital expenditures, which is actually where we are falling short in our budget."
Hutchinson said he hopes the cultural initiative will bring attention to that funding issue and spur a discussion of how they might all work around it.
Kate Boyd, executive director of Park Silly Sunday Market, said the market was proud to stand with Barton.
"I think now is a perfect time to get the ball rolling, to get this committee together," she said. "All of these nonprofits, we are at the height. Seven years ago, we couldn’t all say that. There is an economic impact that we are all making. To have your support is what we all need."
Kimberly Kuehn, CEO and founder of Park Silly, said the city should embrace this cultural initiative.
"As we all know, in the next 10 years we are going to grow even more," she said. "So we really need to get up on this."
Sandra Morrison, executive director of the Park City Museum, addressed the city council to serve as an example of the benefit collaboration with the city can have.
"We opened in 2009," she said. "We had 102,000 people come in the front door last year. This year, we met that mark in September. History is alive in Park City thanks to that wonderful collaboration."
Barton said the arts groups feel like they are in a good position now but are stifled, with little room to grow.
"We are not seasonal like the Summit County of old — we are vibrant year-round," Barton said. "We are too important to fail. And there is no need to create this tourism engine — we are here. We can expand and flourish with proper support and planning."
The city council was receptive to the idea of a blue ribbon committee, with Mayor Jack Thomas saying he welcomes the chance to enrich the arts in Park City.
"I champion you all coming," he said. "I think you are a fundamental part of our community."
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A member of the Park City Council on Thursday remained especially concerned about the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. City councilor Steve Joyce delivered some of the notable comments during a meeting between Park City’s elected officials and Phil Bondurant, who is the Summit County health director.