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Sundance move threatens S.L. funds

Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Sundance Institute is not worried about losing access to a pool of millions of dollars in Salt Lake County funding as a result of the institute’s plans to relocate its Utah headquarters from Salt Lake City to Park City.

The loss was contemplated months ago and there are earmarks locally to make up the difference, officials at City Hall and Sundance say.

Under Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts and Park rules, an organization must have its main office in that county to be eligible for ‘Tier 1’ funding from what is widely referred to as ‘ZAP’ money.

Sundance intends to move its Salt Lake City staffers to new offices in the Silver Star development, located on the edge of Thaynes Canyon. The move was announced in 2005 and Sundance expects to relocate the offices later in 2006.

In 2005, the institute received about $550,000 in ZAP funding, according to Vicki Bourns, who manages the program for Salt Lake County. Bourns, though, could not predict how much money Sundance would get once it leaves Salt Lake City.

The institute is currently grouped with 23 of Salt Lake County’s largest organizations eligible for ZAP funding, those with annual budgets topping about $300,000, she said.

Combined those organizations are eligible to receive just less than 49 percent of the funding. Bourns estimates that, this year, those 23 organizations will split between $8.5 million and $9 million.

She said Sundance might be eligible for Tier 2 funding. Groups at that level split 9 percent of the money, she said, estimating that amount to be about $1.5 million this year.

No organization may receive more than 7 percent of all the money available for Tier 2 organizations, she said. That sum will be between $80,000 and $100,000 in 2006.

"Frankly, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with Sundance," she said.

Most of the film festival’s screenings and almost all of its revelry occur in Park City but some screenings are held along the Wasatch Front, including in Salt Lake City.

Sundance organizers wanted to relocate the Utah headquarters to Park City partly to reduce expenses during the film festival, such as on travel between Park City and Salt Lake City.

Jill Miller, the managing director of the institute, who negotiated the headquarters relocation, acknowledged that Sundance will not be eligible for the money shared by the Tier 1 organizations.

But she said that Sundance’s ZAP funding is spent on its programs in Salt Lake County, not those that occur in Park City. She said the potential loss in ZAP funding does not threaten Park City’s Sundance Film Festival schedule or other programs that are held locally.

"ZAP funding only covers our expenses for Salt Lake County programs," Miller said, adding, "There will be no impact on our Park City programming."

As part of a deal between City Hall and Sundance in 2005, the local government, the Park City Chamber/Bureau and Park City businesses agreed to pay the institute $330,000 each year, adding to the $100,000 that Sundance received previously in Park City.

The local funding could be lessened based on the ZAP money but City Manager Tom Bakaly said it is unlikely that that will occur given Sundance’s Tier 2 standing.

"Our hope was there would be some contributions from ZAP or other sources," he said.


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