Sundance will require coronavirus vaccinations for festival-goers in Park City
Organizers take an important public health step as planning continues for January
The Sundance Film Festival will require people attending screenings or other festival events in Utah in 2022 to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, an important public health step as organizers continue to plan for an in-person event in January after the festival moved to an online platform this year out of concern over the sickness.
Organizers provided limited details on Tuesday in a message from Tabitha Jackson, the festival director. She said Sundance is considering “how best to safely bring together artists, audiences, volunteers, and staff from around the world.”
“We are providing this information now to ensure that all in-person participants feel comfortable attending, and can adjust their travel plans if needed,” Jackson said.
The message indicated the details of the health measures will be made public as the festival approaches. Those details will include the capacity of the screening rooms and rules regarding mask wearing. It is almost certain those sorts of details will be driven by the state of the spread of the sickness at that time and be crafted in consultation with public health officials. In-person screenings are also planned in Salt Lake City as well as Sundance Mountain Resort, the message says.
The Tuesday announcement of the vaccination requirement was made more than five months prior to the scheduled opening of Sundance in January. It is a signal, though, that festival organizers anticipate the pandemic will continue to be problematic next winter even with the progress made on the vaccination efforts. The message acknowledges Sundance will “navigate the ongoing realities of this pandemic.”
Jackson, meanwhile, says Sundance next year will also again employ the online platform that debuted during this year’s festival. She also outlines that Sundance will schedule selections from the festival at so-called satellite screens across the U.S. A maximum of 10 satellite screens will show films over the closing weekend of the festival.
“The soul of Sundance has always been in the coming together of a community: around new voices, new work, new forms, and new perspectives. During last year’s Festival, even when denied the chance to gather in a single place, the power of converging in a single moment was undeniable. We were able to expand the possibility of who could take part. And as we prepare for 2022, we remain committed to this invitation to new audiences,” she said.
Jackson added that the festival in 2022 “will be the site of a new convergence. We are delighted that the community can once again make the annual pilgrimage back to the Festival in Utah, and we also invite audiences to join us online from wherever they are.”
The festival is scheduled to run Jan. 20-30.
The organizers and Park City officials in coming months are expected to hold discussions as the plans are finalized. The Park City Council will eventually be asked to approve the blueprints of the festival. Those discussions are expected to be heavily influenced by the state of the pandemic at the time and could extend in some fashion until late in the year.
City Hall and Sundance continued to hold talks in December about the prospects of an in-person element of this year’s event. The Ray, which was planned as the only live venue in Park City, was not scrapped until late in December.
The planned return of an in-person festival will be welcomed in Park City’s business community. Sundance is, by a wide margin, the most lucrative special event on Park City’s calendar. An in-person festival would be expected to lift business sectors like lodging, restaurant and transportation. It seems unlikely, though, that the economic impact of the 2022 festival would match the robust numbers of the pre-pandemic era with the expectation of lingering concerns about the sickness.
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A former mayor of Park City, Jack Thomas, recently testified at a Park City Planning Commission meeting regarding the concept for a major development at Snow Park, essentially praising the overarching vision but cautioning the review will likely be extensive.