Smaller, Disbursed Kimball Arts Fest A Possibility
Park City Council met Thursday night and discussed the possibility of holding a limited Kimball Arts Festival this summer. The board and staff of the Kimball Arts Center have been working on just what that would look like under the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.
It’s been 50-years since the Kimball Arts Festival first came to Park City’s Main Street. The non-profit Kimball Arts Center relies on their big summer event to help fund their community programs and art exhibits throughout the year. Kimball representatives asked the council for direction and whether they could support a limited arts festival this year. Park City Mayor Andy Beerman says the council is conflicted about the potential impacts of going forward with the event, even under restrictive social distancing guidelines.
“The council in my opinion is very reflective of the entire community where we are very mixed on whether we want to reopen or not. We all want the economic benefits and the freedoms of reopening. But we are all very concerned about the health impacts. The Kimball came in to see if they should even come to us with a plan. So, no decisions were made. We did tell them we would entertain a plan and we gave them some sideboards in terms of size of the festival and best practices. And we expect to hear back from them in the next one to two weeks with something concrete and what it would look like."
Initial proposals include limiting the number of patrons on Main Street to 750 at a time. They would require masks be worn by employees, volunteers, and artists. Beerman says it’s uncertain if the organizers could require attendees to wear masks.
“I brought that up with them. They had been told they couldn’t. But I actually have a different interpretation. And certainly, that needs to be worked out with the health department and the legal department. But because the nature of a master festival license and the fact that they have exclusive use of the streets, I think it could be interpreted as like a private event. And just like a business could deny somebody for not wearing a mask, may not allow somebody to come in. I think a festival could require it. At the end of the day, I think it would be one thing to require it and another to enforce it.”
The City Council gave their support to explore the possibility of a limited arts festival this summer. But Beerman says if cases spike, deeper social restrictions are needed, the Kimball takes the risk that even the limited event could be cancelled.
“Yeah, I think it’s a risk. We saw that in March where we called off our entire economy, shut everything down and sent everybody home in a week’s time, because we felt like the risks were high enough. So, I think in this new world, if this pandemic were to worsen or the severity worsened, or the spread grew quickly, certainly all bets are off and public health will come first. But, even before the Kimball comes back, we are going to see where this current spike is going and we are going to see if all the recent protests have caused a further spike, which should help better inform our decision."
Car free Sunday’s on Main Street begins June 14. All businesses can participate on the sidewalks but must submit requests to the city events staff the Friday before. Beerman says merchants have little to lose by participating. He says They can look at sales tax revenues and numbers of visitors, but the success will be determined by the vibrancy on the street.
“Success is whether the merchants find it beneficial to their business and whether the community finds it to be a safe event, that they enjoyed. And we're going to be looking to both of those groups to give us feedback.”
The DABC, Department of Alcohol Beverage Control has not authorized restaurants to serve on the street. The legislature is expected to address the issue in a special session this month. There are many Utah communities wishing to expand outside dining alternatives in this time of COVId-19 distancing.