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Park City, Sundance leaders praise partnership in festival debrief

A screening at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock for Sundance/Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock for Sundance
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock for Sundance
A screening at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Film Festival officials met with the Park City Council Thursday amid an uncertain future about the event.

Sundance is considering leaving Park City after 2026. The nonprofit has cited COVID-19 financial troubles and a rapidly-changing entertainment industry as reasons to hit the reset button.

Cities including Atlanta and Sante Fe, N.M. are bidding to replace Park City, which has been Sundance’s home for 40 years. The nonprofit has said it plans to make a final decision on relocation by the end of this year or early next year.

A committee including Park City Mayor Nann Worel and Gov. Spencer Cox is working to keep the festival in Utah.

Acting Sundance Institute CEO Amanda Kelso, who was appointed in March, spoke to the city council virtually Thursday.

“In April one of my first stops in my role was to Park City,” Kelso said. “I’m deeply appreciative to Mayor Worel for taking the time to meet with me. And what I share from my previous role as trustee and as my new role in acting CEO, is a deep appreciation for our relationship and history with Park City. We’re not only able to do the work we do because of the location, but also because of the incredible partnership we have with you.”

Kelso said she plans to return later this summer to meet with Park City officials.

Council member Jeremy Rubell emphasized the city’s ties with Sundance.

“We feel as a community that Sundance is part of our community just as much as we’re a part of the Sundance brand,” Rubell said. “That’s a really exciting partnership for us and hopefully you feel the same.”

Council member Bill Ciraco was impressed that Sundance had garnered over 17,000 film submissions for the 2024 festival, a new record.

The two-week event generated $132 million in local economic impact according to data compiled by the Sundance Institute. That marks a nearly 12% increase compared to 2023.

Among the other 2024 stats Sundance reported:

  • 1,275 accredited media members
  • 1.4 million engagements on Sundance’s social media, a 39% year-over-year increase
  • Film submissions from 153 different countries
  • 444 total screenings in Park City
  • Over 375 hours of ASL interpretation
  • 26 activated venues in Old Town

Over 144,000 people rode public transit during the two-week event this year, according to Park City Special Events Manager Jenny Diersen.
“Compared to other peak weekends, both before and after the festival such as MLK holiday, that’s about 30,000 more people than we see during another peak time,” Diersen said. “At its peak during the festival, Richardson Flat had 482 cars parked there. This would not have been possible without the partnership we have with Sundance and both resorts, who help promote alternative transit options during our busiest times to patrons and the community.”

Diersen said the city received minimal complaints about the traffic flow in Old Town, which involved two-way traffic on Main Street and one-way southbound on Park Avenue. She said they don’t anticipate any major changes to the circulation at next year’s festival.

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