Sundance Institute is coming, but what will it mean?
Recently, the Sundance Institute announced its Utah office would move to Park City. While the move solidified the presence of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City for years to come and will bring approximately 30 year-round Sundance Institute staff members and more than 100 seasonal staffers to town, the other effects remain to be seen.
According to Jill Miller, the managing director of the Sundance Institute, the organization hopes its physical presence in the community will change the way Parkites view the Institute.
"I think there’s no question that part of the community has viewed us as an organization that just came in and did a festival," said Miller. "Our hope is that by moving into the community and becoming part of it, we can better understand the locals’ perspective."
Miller said the Institute’s new home in the Silver Star development will house the organization’s administrative offices but no public facilities.
She emphasized that working and living within the community should give the Institute a new view of the area.
"I think that our ability to be up there on a day-to-day basis will make us more involved with the community," she said.
And that may lead to a better, more locals-friendly Sundance Film Festival, programming more tailored to fit the needs of the community and other developments. However, Miller said the organization had no firm plans for specific programs or initiatives.
"I think that we haven’t finalized anything in that regard," said Miller.
She said the Institute should be able to find ways to get involved with the local film community, and new programs are possible, but she also said that before the organization adds many additional activities, it will likely focus on maximizing its current offerings.
"Both our Outdoor Film Festival and our Documentary Film Series are only about two years old," she noted.
Those programs might be tweaked to respond to local interest, she said, helping to increase their popularity.
Currently, in addition to the Outdoor Film Festival, which runs for about two months in the summertime, and the Documentary Film Series, which brings a Sundance Film Festival Documentary to the Jim Santy Auditorium every month, the Sundance Institute offers the "Best of Fest" screenings featuring award winning films from the Sundance Film Festival free to Park City residents immediately following the festival.
All of the programs are free and open to the public.
"One of the things that we understand is that there’s been a commitment by the community to building an artistic foundation here," said Miller. "We just hope that our relocation will enhance that."
In addition, she said she hopes a bigger portion of the community might more readily embrace the Institute’s biggest event.
"Really what I would love is that Park City comes to feel that they own the festival as much as the Sundance Institute does," she said.
Then the event could truly of Park City, as well as in Park City, and the Institute could claim both as well.
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Park City at the start of 2021 is preparing for the return of numerous special events, something that could help reignite Park City’s tourism-heavy economy and re-create some of the energy that was lacking in 2020.