Park City Institute takes a bold step with upcoming season opener |

Park City Institute takes a bold step with upcoming season opener


"Provocative," is the word she has carefully chosen to describe the Eccles Center’s opening performance.

It is clear Park City Institute Executive Director Teri Orr knows the decision to present a live satellite interview with Edward Snowden will rouse passionate reactions — both positive and negative.

Snowden is the man who leaked documents about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs revealing the extent to which the U.S. government had been snooping on private citizens’ lives by tapping into phone and Internet records. He is currently living in asylum in Russia and faces certain arrest if he tries to return to the United Sates. A recent Wired Magazine article defined him as "the most wanted man in the world."

Here in the U.S., Snowden is variously referred to as a cowardly traitor — for allegedly undermining the country’s efforts to ferret out terrorists — or an unsung hero for risking his life to protect individual privacy.

And that is exactly the debate Orr and the Institute’s board are hoping to stimulate on Dec. 5. In addition to the closed-circuit interview led by KUER host Doug Fabrizio, Snowden’s attorney Ben Wizner will be on hand to discuss the larger issues surrounding the precarious balance between maintaining national security and protecting civil liberties.

The Snowden interview kicks off another season of diverse programming at the Eccles Center, one that continues to expand audience members’ exposure to the arts. But more and more each year the Institute has been introducing lectures and discussions on a variety of cutting edge topics related to science, technology and alternative forms of expression.

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With the Snowden interview, the Institute, formerly known as the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, formalizes its name change and added dimension. It is a bold and exciting move, one the Park City community should embrace even if it leads to heated discussions.

The palette of shows at the Eccles Center this winter ranges from Celtic violinist Eileen Ivers, National Public Radio storyteller Ira Glass and hall of fame musician Allen Toussaint to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, with plenty of poetry, dance and performance art in between. In almost any other community, such an eclectic array would struggle to find an audience, but if past seasons are any indication, local culture mongers would be wise to make their reservations well in advance.

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