Festival highlights Kimball Art Center’s vital role in the community
The Park City Kimball Arts Festival has grown into a massive celebration, one that sheds an array of benefits on businesses throughout town. But the sheer volume of artisans, activities and visitors can be intimidating.
It needn’t be, though.
In recent years, art center organizers and city officials have streamlined every aspect of the event — including traffic and parking. So there is no reason to sit on the sidelines brooding about how to navigate through the crowds. Park in a satellite lot, jump on a free bus and immerse yourself in art, music and good food.
The very first Arts Festival was dreamed up by a group of nearly starving artists and struggling merchants looking for ways to draw travelers passing by on Interstate 80. They parked a truck with hand-painted lettering on the cab alongside the Park City exit and hoped for the best. Today, they’d be amazed by the success of their modest effort.
The Arts Festival is also the year’s biggest fundraiser for the Kimball Art Center, an organization that has provided nearly four decades of inspiration to aspiring artists, Parkites and visitors. From offering an elite arts academy for gifted high schoolers to its most recent partnership with the National Ability Center, the art center has added an important cultural dimension to the community. Proceeds from the gate and from artists’ sales provide a big boost to the center’s year-round educational efforts and free exhibitions.
In fact, the Kimball Art Center had become such an integral part of the Park City landscape that, until this year, the institutional anchor at the base of Main Street was pretty much taken for granted. That is, until the art center hit a roadblock with the city over its expansion plans and declared its intention to sell its historic building and look for a new permanent home.
News of the art center’s decision to leave Main Street rocked the community and, knowing the organization will soon move to a temporary space in Prospector, gives this festival a bittersweet aura. The Kimball has assured patrons the festival will be held on Main Street for years to come and they are busy hunting for a new location that will allow the nonprofit to continue to grow, but they are unlikely to have a year-round headquarters in the heart of Old Town.
The Kimball Art Center and Main Street are like two friends who grew up together and are now going their separate ways. Hopefully, the Kimball will keep its promise to visit each summer but its presence will be missed on Main Street.
In the meantime, we hope longtime and new Kimball Art Center fans will make a special effort to support the festival this year in order to help launch the organization’s exciting new venture.