Sundance set design for Park City desired earlier |

Sundance set design for Park City desired earlier

City Hall officials want different timeline for critical task

The Festival Village during the Sundance Film Festival required lower Main Street be closed to traffic just before the festival to allow the setup, shown. The section of street remained closed to traffic for Sundance itself as well. The Festival Village is one of the topics City Hall and Sundance organizers continue to discuss as part of an annual review of operations.
File photo by Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Sundance Film Festival organizers may undertake the critical task of set design along Main Street earlier than they did as this year’s event approached.

Festival organizers and Park City leaders at a recent meeting addressed the Sundance setup on lower Main Street in 2017 as the sides held a wide-ranging discussion about operations in January. The lower Main Street presence of Sundance this year was one of the major changes from previous festivals as organizers expanded onto the street itself to create the Festival Village, an area where official Sundance sponsors showcased their wares. The Festival Village required lower Main Street be closed to traffic during Sundance as well as just before and just after to allow crews to build the Festival Village and then tear it down.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council at the recent meeting spoke to Sundance officials as part of an annual post-festival review of operations. The Festival Village was expected to be one of the key points of the review and will likely be discussed in further detail if Sundance pursues a similar arrangement in 2018.

The plans for the Festival Village in 2017 were not finalized until late in 2016, a timeline that displeased some within the municipal government and along lower Main Street. There were businesses on lower Main Street that indicated they were not aware of the plans until just weeks before the festival opened.

The elected officials at the recent meeting indicated they want Sundance to craft plans for the festival earlier. Sundance typically submits what is known as a supplemental plan for the festival that requires City Hall approval. The supplemental plan is a complement to the broader license allowing the festival to take place and normally addresses new festival locations like the Festival Village.

There was concern about the late-in-the-year timing of the supplemental plans. Becca Gerber, a City Councilor, said the discussions about the supplemental plans are held as the holidays arrive and Park City businesses are busy readying for the ski season as they hire ad train staffers. She said it is difficult for Parkites and businesses to participate in a discussion about Sundance at that time of the year. Perhaps the City Hall-Sundance discussions should occur in October and November instead, not when the community is preparing for the “onslaught,” she said.

Nann Worel, another member of the City Council, meanwhile, said she wants procedures drafted outlining communications between Sundance officials and Main Street businesses. She also said the timeline needs to start earlier.

There was also discussion about the Festival Village activities. Some criticized the Festival Village offerings, which were corporate heavy, and the hours. There was worry along lower Main Street that the Festival Village did not remain enticing into the night, making it more difficult to draw people to the businesses.

Worel said she wants the activities at the Festival Village better clarified. City Councilor Tim Henney said perhaps a community-oriented event like a concert could be staged at the Festival Village if it returns. Other issues mentioned by Park City leaders included the mayor saying parties without official ties to Sundance should be made to follow earlier timelines if those deadlines are required of the festival and Henney saying it does not look good when temporary setups during Sundance are torn down during the day.

The recent meeting was held less than two months after the festival ended and amid concerns that the impacts of Sundance were more pronounced in 2017 than they were in past years. The elected officials at the meeting also touched on traffic and parking with the possibility of instituting an access-pass system to reduce the number of vehicles in Old Town during Sundance. City Hall and Sundance are expected to hold more detailed meetings later, perhaps as early as April, as they address the Main Street setup, traffic and other issues.

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