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Sundance to explore leaving Park City after 2026 festival

Outside the Egyptian Theatre during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
Parker Malatesta
Outside the Egyptian Theatre during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute said Wednesday it will consider a new festival location in the United States for 2027 and beyond.

Sundance's existing contract with Park City, which has hosted the festival for 40 years, expires after 2026.

According to a press release, Sundance wants other localities to make their case for hosting the annual festival. Sites that meet specific criteria, such as venue space and airport proximity, will be invited to apply for final evaluation.

Sundance said it intends to make a decision about relocating either near the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

Festival officials have noted Park City’s challenges with affordability and accessibility.

Former Sundance CEO Joana Vicente hinted change may be coming at a Park City Council meeting last year. Vicente said the institute was struggling financially due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sundance has cut staff and eliminated venues from the festival in recent years. Vicente stepped down in March.

Park City Mayor Nann Worel said Wednesday the city is committed to keeping the festival for another 40 years. "We will work collaboratively with all our state and local partners on next steps,” Worel said.

The 2023 festival generated $118 million in economic impact for the state of Utah and drew over 80,000 attendees, according to a Sundance report.

The institute said one of the many possible outcomes is the festival could remain in Park City and Salt Lake. They noted that Utah is “uniquely positioned” in this process given the event’s extensive history.

The Sundance board, which includes founder Robert Redford, is involved in the selection process.