New Park City Arts And Culture Advisor Envisions Hands-on Programming For District
Park City Municipal and its partners on the forthcoming arts and culture district, the Sundance Institute and Kimball Art Center, still have a way to go before the district opens to the community and visitors. The city recently hired someone to help lead the way.
Among his 25 years of creative arts experience, Park City Arts and Culture Development Advisor Robb Woulfe most recently worked to build Breckenridge, Colorado’s arts district. Woulfe’s background is in programming and activating spaces, through things like festivals and public art. But even with his experience, Woulfe says he realizes the role the community needs to play in every part of the district.
“I think it's really important to make sure that the right steps are taken in that, and building the right programmatic framework, the right strategy behind that," Woulfe said. "And making sure that there's community engagement, both from the local nonprofit sector as well as what I call the creative community—your bigger creative community. Not just the artists, not just the arts nonprofits, but all of those creatives and the entrepreneurs that are out there contributing to the vibrancy of Park City.”
Woulfe sees similarities between Breckenridge and Park City; both are ski towns with lulls in tourism during the year, and both want to build a year-round economy. Woulfe says in Breckenridge, the fine arts weren’t as popular as more hands-on art activities. He says Park City’s arts and culture district isn’t intended to compete with Main Street’s galleries but will likely draw that adventure-seeking crowd that lives in and visits Park City.
“Woodworking, glasswork, metalsmithing—you know, people wanted to build a doghouse," Woulfe said. "I mean, people want to get their hands dirty, and I think that's kind of the culture here. People are fueled by adrenaline, and I think that plays out in arts and culture; I think that plays out in culinary tastes. I think that sense of adventure is what defines people who live here, who visit here, who work here.”
The city, Sundance Institute and Kimball Art Center have mostly worked on the physical planning of the district up to this point. Each entity has its own architect, though there are no renderings available yet. For the city’s part, it’s looking at building underground parking and an underground transit hub; affordable housing units; and a food hall and public plazas. With an idea of the facilities that could go into the district, Woulfe’s task now is to look at programming and how it influences the district’s design and development.
"I think it’s critical that the city to get that piece right from the get-go because you don't want to be designing and building buildings that, ultimately, are not going to be relevant," Woulfe said. "So they're a little bit hand-in-hand, but then we’ll jump into operations—how does this thing work and how is it governed. Certainly, with this level of partner, this level of players, the city’s investment, I think you have to get that governance structure right as well."
The city intends to submit the completed master planned development application in September or October of this year. Prior to that, arts and culture district project manager Nate Rockwood says the district partners will host another round of public engagement.