Park City arts fest committed to Main Street |

Park City arts fest committed to Main Street

Event expected to remain as cultural district is developed

by Jay Hamburger

The Park City Kimball Arts Festival will not follow the host organization, the Kimball Art Center, to an arts district City Hall wants to create in the Bonanza Park district.

The popular summertime event, which typically draws more than 50,000, is expected to continue to be held on Main Street even after an arts district is developed to house the Kimball Art Center and the Sundance Institute’s Utah headquarters. Main Street will remain an attractive location for the event regardless of the development of an arts district, people involved in discussions about the arts festival said as the 2017 edition approached.

The Kimball Art Center kept the event on Main Street as the not-for-profit organization itself left its longtime location at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue for the Bonanza Park district in the fall of 2015. The organization sold the property along Main Street to a developer after a difficult discussion with City Hall about an ambitious renovation and expansion of the facility. Park City officials rejected the art center’s plans, leading to the sale of the property and the move to temporary quarters on Kearns Boulevard where the organization remains.

City Hall in July announced plans to acquire land in Bonanza Park to create an arts district. The Kimball Art Center supports the plans and wants to develop a permanent facility there. It is expected to be at least several years before a facility is ready.

The arts festival will apparently not be impacted by the moves in Bonanza Park. Dave March, the marketing and events director for the Kimball Art Center, said in an interview just before the weekend the arts festival fits well along Main Street. It is a “quintessential small town street,” he said.

“Being on Main Street we certainly enjoy and find it valuable,” March said. “It’s a very iconic venue, location, to Park City for our brand.”

March also noted the section of Main Street where the arts festival is held stretches approximately one-half of a mile, creating one mile of street frontage for artist booths and other festival setups since they are situated on both sides of the street.

He said the Kimball Art Center has not delved into the details of the planned arts district. March said he envisions the organization will want to keep the festival on Main Street regardless of the plans in the arts district.

“We’ve had no discussions about moving off Main Street,” he said.

The talks about an arts district, which were made public in July, are occurring less than a year after City Hall and the Kimball Art Center reached an agreement that calls for the festival to be held on Main Street through the 2021 edition. The deal guaranteed the festival’s traditional dates of the first weekend in August after a shift in dates to accommodate the Tour of Utah bicycle race. There was not talk about moving the festival to another location as the sides negotiated the agreement.

A City Hall official involved in the talks about the arts district said it is early in the process and declined to discuss the festival’s future in any depth. Anne Laurent, the community development director, said, as an example, the development details have not been finalized in the arts district.

“At this point, we’re just excited at exploring it,” she said about the arts district. “The opportunity for the community.”

There has been longtime City Hall support of the Main Street setting for the arts festival, negotiating agreements with the Kimball Art Center for that spot even as there was early talk in the past about moving the event to another location in the Park City area. It seems that City Hall would support the festival remaining on Main Street past the end of the current agreement through 2021 if that is the desire of the Kimball Art Center.

Main Street businesses closely follow any discussions about the future of the arts festival, especially poring over the event blueprints. Some businesses have long complained of a slip in sales over the weekend, saying festival-goers are not shopping for wares sold in the brick-and-mortar stores. The festival organizers have modified the footprint of the event over the years, particularly in an effort to provide better pedestrian access to the store, restaurants and nightclubs lining Main Street.

The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses on or close to Main Street, will want the arts festival to remain where it is as the arts district is developed, the executive director, Michael Barille, said. The event provides “some of the best synergy” on the street, he said, adding that people attending the festival spend money at stores, galleries and restaurants. Perhaps one day there could be partnerships between the festival and Main Street businesses for fashion and culinary arts, he said.

“I think there’s a lot of charm to the history of Main Street,” he said, noting the atmosphere and architecture along the street. “It’s been one of the better events for us up to now.”