Sundance remains involved in Park City arts district as CEO readies to depart
Turnover at top announced as important decisions about City Hall project near
The CEO of the Sundance Institute this week announced she will depart later in 2021, but the organization still anticipates having a starring role in an arts and culture district planned in Park City.
Keri Putnam has been at Sundance for longer than a decade. She is based in the Los Angeles office and is not as visible a figure in Park City as some of the staffers in the local office. But Putnam, as the CEO, has broad influence over the Sundance operations like the annual film festival in Park City and the organization’s vision.
Sundance and the Kimball Art Center are envisioned as the two anchors to the arts and culture district, which City Hall wants to develop stretching inward from the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive.
Sundance under the concept would move the Utah headquarters to the district. The offices are currently on Kearns Boulevard after being housed in a location on the edge of Thaynes Canyon. The details of the arts district remain to be decided, but it seems likely Sundance would have a more public presence in that location than in the previous spots.
The talks, though, have been difficult in recent months as City Hall and the two not-for-profit organizations tapped to be the co-anchors consider budgetary matters amid the economic uncertainty caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Both of the organizations suffered layoffs in 2020. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council are expected to make key decisions regarding the district shortly.
Betsy Wallace, the Park City-based managing director and chief operating officer of Sundance, provided prepared answers to a Park Record inquiry about the impact of Putnam’s pending departure on the talks about the arts and culture district. She indicated the hiring of a new Sundance CEO and the discussions about the district are “two separate processes” that will “advance simultaneously and without direct connection.”
She said Sundance wants to move forward with the talks about a district. She did not provide details.
“We remain excited to continue collaborating with the City of Park City and creating a way for the Institute to participate in the Arts and Culture District in a meaningful way — and remain committed to Park City, which will always be the Institute’s home,” Wallace said.
The involvement of Sundance, with an international footprint and being the organizer of one of the world’s top marketplaces of independent films, is seen as bringing a bit of cachet to the project. City Hall leaders want to develop a district in an effort to solidify the community as a destination for arts and culture. They also argue the project will help diversify the Park City economy from one that relies heavily on the ski industry.
The concept for the district involves workforce or otherwise restricted housing and transportation infrastructure alongside the arts and culture elements of the project like buildings for Sundance and the Kimball Art Center. Two important events centered on the district are scheduled next week, starting with a Monday roundtable that will be followed by a planned March 31 City Council hearing.
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.