Community has been enriched by 20 years of Eccles Center programming | ParkRecord.com

Community has been enriched by 20 years of Eccles Center programming

The Park Record editorial, Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2017

When Parkites filed into the George S. and Delores Doré Eccles Center for the very first time on Jan. 8, 1998, their jaws dropped. The 1,300-seat auditorium, with its professional lighting, sound and backstage rigging, replaced a makeshift stage in the high school's cafeteria and suddenly opened a new world of cultural opportunities for both students and the community at large.

Built with a unique combination of hard-won public and private funds, the theater's founders made a commitment that the facility would serve as an educational resource for local students and a dynamic cultural amenity for residents and visitors.

Season after season, it has fulfilled that promise and exceeded all expectations.

The show on opening night in 1998 offered an ample preview of the Park City School District and the Park City Performing Arts Foundation leaders' ambitious plan to offer a diverse range of programming. Performers included the Park City High School Band, Ballet West, the Utah Opera and Symphony and the then-nationally acclaimed comedian Bill Cosby.

For local residents, it was as if a bit of Broadway had been transported to their hometown.

True to the original partners' commitment, subsequent seasons have each included a range of classic and contemporary music, dance, film, poets and playwrights with performances that have been mainstream and edgy, popular and controversial. And the community has embraced that diversity.

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Over the years, the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, now known as The Park City Institute has expanded its season to include summer offerings under the stars at Deer Valley Resort, and it has extended its winter season to include spring and fall events.

Through its student outreach program, the Institute has also given countless youngsters the rare opportunity to work with nationally known musicians, dancers, writers and speakers.

The breadth of programming has grown too. The Institute has become an official TEDX presenter – giving students the opportunity to sharpen their own TED Talks and bringing TED's avant-guarde ideas to various venues around Park City.

But the task of bringing that level of culture to Park City is an ongoing challenge. Generous private donors, local and state granting organizations, and enthusiastic volunteers have continued to sustain the theater, and by extension, the community's access to world class performances. But it is also up to us.

On Thursday, the Institute unveiled an astonishing lineup for its 20th season. Beginning this week, residents and visitors can celebrate that milestone and help to ensure future decades of inspiration and entertainment by picking a show and grabbing a handful of tickets.

For more information go to this website .