The Park Record editorial, March 7-9, 2012
The proof is in the numbers. After a handful of years spent tinkering with the schedule, layout and marketing of the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival, a financial tally of the 2011 event indicates the overall economic impact of the event went up substantially.
The numbers were made public by the Park City Council this week and they suggest that recent changes to the way the festival is run greatly enhanced the popular event’s contribution to the local economy. According to the report, last year’s art festival generated $18.2 million in local business, more than 60 percent over the previous year.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the jump in festival-related economic activity has been the effort to extend the festival from a two-day to a three-day event. Artists now open their booths on Friday evening and remain busy through Sunday afternoon. Other changes that may have contributed to the bottom line, too, include partnering with local concert presenters, restaurants and lodges to market the festival as a weekend destination, altering the layout of the booths on Main Street and reducing the number of street food vendors in favor of supporting local restaurants.
The changes are a testament to all of the stakeholders’ willingness to work together. As a result, merchants who used to see the art festival as a detriment to their businesses are now seeing an increase in out-of-town foot traffic, and hopefully, a bump in cash register activity as well.
The report is not only a great local success story, but could also serve as a valuable template for other special events like the Sundance Film Festival. Recent complaints by Main Street merchants about the challenges they face during the film festival are reminiscent of the days when those same merchants complained that art festival crowds siphoned foot traffic away from their doors. The recent art festival financial report should give both Sundance and the merchants the incentive to work together for their mutual benefit.
Anita Lewis, Brent Ovard and Travis English were influential in shaping how residents interact with the county.