Sundance sponsors ‘cautiously’ returning to Park City, official says

It is unclear what sort of corporate presence will arrive for the festival

Ridesharing firm Lyft was among the corporate interests that operated temporary space on Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. Corporate interests are continuing to weigh their plans for Sundance in 2022, a Park City official said on Thursday.
Park Record file photo

The Sundance Film Festival scene will return to Main Street in January, but it is unclear whether the set change on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip will resemble those in the past.

With Sundance planned as an in-person event in Park City in January, talk is starting about what sort of footprint — official and nonofficial — the festival will have a year after all live events were canceled in 2021 out of concern for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday received limited information about the topic as part of a broader discussion regarding the ongoing transportation planning for the festival.

Jenny Diersen, who is the economic development program manager at City Hall, briefly addressed temporary setups during Sundance, which are concentrated in the Main Street core. Sundance itself operates some of the locations while official festival sponsors typically also have locations along Main Street or just off the street. Numerous other corporate interests without official ties to the festival traditionally also operate locations in Park City during Sundance, seeking visibility as the film industry arrives for the top marketplace of independent films in the U.S.

Diersen told the elected officials the setups are anticipated to be dismantled earlier than before. She did not provide details. In many cases, the corporate interests are usually drawn to the especially busy opening days of Sundance, when the celebrity and media presence is greatest, and the setups are removed days before the end of the festival.

Diersen also said the corporate interests are continuing to weigh their plans for Sundance.

“As we’re all struggling with staffing and supplies and costs, I think a lot of the sponsors, as they’re coming back into the market, they’re just trying to figure out what’s affordable and come back cautiously,” she said.

Much of the discussion at City Hall about corporate interests usually is in regard to official sponsors since they have direct ties to Sundance. The list of official sponsors includes large firms like Chase Sapphire, Acura and Canada Goose. Park City officials, though, must also address other corporate interests without ties to Sundance. The City Council traditionally is asked to approve numerous licenses in the period before Sundance that allow the firms to operate inside Park City.

Some in the business community will welcome the return of the corporate interests. Building and business owners along Main Street can reach high-dollar deals to lease space to the corporations, providing an income stream at a time when typical customers are less likely to stop in with Park City so busy with Sundance crowds. Some of the leases in previous years were believed to be especially lucrative.

The meeting on Thursday was held a little more than two months before Sundance is scheduled to open. The dates in 2022 run from Jan. 20 until Jan. 30. The elected officials are expected to meet with Sundance shortly to finalize the plans. Although the festival is slated to be held in person, the event is not expected to resemble the spectacle of previous years. Organizers earlier in November eliminated three screening rooms in the Park City area for the 2022 event, a further indication the festival in January will be a scaled-back affair from those of the pre-coronavirus era.

Park City

Park City Council meets twice this week

The Park City Council will hold a special meeting at City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 9 a.m. The agenda includes public input and possible action on an Interlocal Agreement for 911 Services between Summit County, Park City Fire District, and Park City Municipal. 

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