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Park City Performing Arts Institute Faces Financial Woes

Park City Institute

The Park City Performing Arts Institute Executive Director sent an email to supporters saying they’re in a financial crisis and must raise $250-thousand dollars by the end of December to assure performances continue beyond 2018. Carolyn Murray has this:

The email states the institute faces the most difficult time in the 20-year history. It debunks common myths. To clarify: artists don’t perform for free, tickets sales do not cover the what an act costs, there are no large donors who make up for deficits in sales and sponsorship and no one funds the free tickets distributed to the underserved community.

Executive Director of the Park City Performing Arts Institute, Teri Orr said the financial travails they’re experiencing is a national trend and that performing arts programs are struggling to sell tickets across the country.

“A lot of the ticket buyers are spending their ticket money on Broadway touring shows or giant arena shows or their own home nesting in. So, going out taking a chance on performing arts is hurting everyone.”

Orr said they had different challenges to contend with in 2009 coming out of the great recession. She said their needs have changed as they’ve grown.

“And those were tough times and we were able to picot in a different way. But we are much bigger than we were back in those days, in 09. Our budget is 3.2 million dollars. That’s a pretty big beast to feed every year. We start from zero every year. We don’t have an endowment. There is no cushion there. WE depend each year, raising the money for that season.”

They lost their summer venue at Deer Valley early in 2018 and they had to make up for the loss in ticket sales and sponsorships. They also took on added expenses paying for additional services to accommodate the new venue.
“Were all the additional costs of the stage, the giant buses we had to hire, the rest rooms, the extra tech people. So, it put us upside-down but we are in the hole because of the ticket sales.

The email delineates accomplishments like the student outreach classes, bringing in unknown acts that go on to stardom, charitable ticket programs for underserved populations and deeply discounted student ticket pricing. They must raise $250-thousand dollars by December 31. Orr isn’t sure what happens if they don’t hit that mark.

“Ah well, then I don’t know how we recalibrate. But we ended up with the month of December being a perfect storm.  It’s always or most expensive show in the winter time with New Year’s Eve. We also had the opportunity to bring in Bob Woodward right as his book was being announced. His agent called. We thought that was something Park City would want to be a part of and it has turned out to be our number one best-selling show.”

She said programs like the father-son authors of the book, Beautiful Boy addressing opiate addiction and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus outreach program about bullying are examples of vital community engagement the Park City Institute   provides.

“And, with the addiction issues that have been, sadly, a piece of our community for the past two years in a much bigger way. But, for a long time here. We thought that was important to bring. Just like in the spring, we have a week of community outreach planned with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the LA Theater Project called It Gets Better.”

Orr said the 1200-seat Eccles Theater was built to accommodate the students of the Park City School District and as an additional Sundance venue. Orr said the solution to their financial crisis is multi-faceted.

“So, it takes selling the tickets. We still have seats to sell. You know, you can have a brass plaque put on a seat with your name on it. It takes donations. It takes underwriting of the individual performances which is something that we used to do in a much more successful way. And there are so many places for people to spend their either advertising or charitable dollars. That ‘s been harder to do so we need renewed efforts in all of those areas.”

Ticket prices have been dropped to $29-dollars for every seat in every show except for the Bob Woodward event this weekend and the New Year’s Eve show with Sutton Foster. Go to parkcity institute.org for tickets and information. 

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