Mile Post 2020: Arts and culture crucial to Park City |

Mile Post 2020: Arts and culture crucial to Park City

Organizations stimulate economic growth

Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Although Park City is known for its world-class resorts, the 2002 Olympic Games and winter sports, it is also known for its thriving arts and culture community.

Just before the coronavirus pandemic shut the town down in March, Summit County’s economic development department issued a state of the arts report, which featured data that was gathered in 2019.

The data illustrates how important arts and culture is to the greater Park City area.

The report stated the local arts and culture industries produced a total of 4,243 jobs, which is a 40.7% increase since 2010.

Locally, arts and culture generated $499,506,373 in total sales that includes fine art pieces, event tickets and other performances and classes, and more than 1,720 people in Summit County are directly employed in arts and culture occupations, which is 56% increase since 2010, according to the report.

“Arts and culture is a light of positivity in the world, and is good for mental health, but they also are critical components to our job and economic growth,” said Jocelyn Scudder, executive director of Arts Council of Park City and Summit County.

Unfortunately those numbers will change with the next report, because of COVID-19’s impact on the community, she said.

“Arts and culture, along with recreation, was hit hardest in terms of job losses,” Scudder said. “The Office of Economic Development report- ed more than 50% of the workforce lost jobs, and we’re seeing that through furloughed employees and closures of some venues.” The Egyptian Theatre, a staple of Park City’s performing arts venues, began a temporary shutdown and furloughed its staff to preserve their resources on Aug. 16.

Park City Institute, which produces Main Stage concerts during the fall and winter at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars, Bright Nights concerts in the summer, hasn’t presented a live show since March. But it can’t completely close its doors in case the CDC deems it safe to host large- gathering concerts, said Ari Ioannides, Park City Institute executive director.

Arts-Kids, a smaller art-based nonprofit that helps more than 700 Summit County children, also felt the coronavirus punch.

“COVID stopped everything, and once things came to a close in March, nothing recovered,” said “Cowboy Ted” Hallisey, Arts-Kids executive director. “All the summer programs, and fee-based pro- grams came to a halt, and funding organizations put things on hold.” Arts-Kids usually needs a minimum of $75,000 to carry out their pro- grams each year, according to Hallisey. The money pays for everything including the programs themselves, supplies, facilitators, insurance and salaries.

This year Arts-Kids’ budget is $50,000. Although the pandemic hovers over the local arts and culture community like a dark cloud, Scudder has seen some of these nonprofits find innovative ways to stay connected with the community.

Park City Film has turned to digital screenings and has hosted outdoor drive-in movies. Park City Museum and Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter began posting webinars on their websites. Mountain Town Music, which programs upwards of 300 live concerts each summer, created its Door-to-Door series, which brings bands to neighborhoods via a flatbed truck, the Park City Gallery Association hosted virtual gallery strolls through Zoom and the Sundance Institute is discussing altering the 2021 Sundance Film Festival by adding more virtual screenings.

“We at the arts council have appreciated the hard work our arts and culture nonprofits have done to adjust their programming so they can keep our community socially connected, even though we are physically distanced,” Scudder said.

Since no one knows when the pandemic will end, the local arts and culture organizations are seeking support, because there is a fear that some of these organizations won’t survive.

“I think we can mostly agree as Summit County residents that arts and culture organizations that exist here and the vibrancy lends to a strong sense of place and that lends to the identity that draws people here in the first place,” Scudder said. “Arts and culture breathes life and soul into our mountain town. It enhances everything we have to offer, and we want our government and various foundations to understand the value and impact of arts and culture.”

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