Park City Institute Shines Spotlight On Bad News And Good News

Jun 25, 2020

Credit Park City Institute

The Park City Institute, like many other non-profits in recent months, had to deal with cancelled events and hard choices.    But  they had some good news on another front.

The new Institute Director, Ari Ioannides, officially took over his position on March 1st—pretty bad timing, he admitted, on the verge of the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdowns.

Since then, he’s had to cancel their summer series, and events such as Saints and Sinners.   But on the bright side, he was able to get the Institute’s financial house in order during the early months of the year.    

“So we entered March with all of our bills paid, current on payables, which was something we were struggling to do.  Had a huge balance-sheet deficit.  And then there were some personality issues with the Board.  All of that got settled before March”

He said that, although they’re in no position to sell tickets or ask for sponsorships, they have cut costs and reduced overhead.  Ioannides said their cash forecast shows they can be viable into August without any additional revenue.

He said when the COVID-19 crisis hit, they furloughed their technical staff and all but three of their regular employees.   But they have raised funds, and applied for all the grants they could.  He said all the staff returned in May.

Meanwhile, a series called Local Live couldn’t go in the Black Box Theatre.   So they took it online.

“And we’ve been able to host a series of Local Live Facebook, Youtube events, where we’ve been able to re-hire our Tech team.  So they’re back on board.  And they had to shift from creating live experiences to creating on-line experiences, with video and audio.  And then hire local artists, a wide variety, we’ve been able to create some pretty exciting projects.  And then the whole team is there, trying to make it happen.  Unfortunately, there’s no ticket sales for that.   But we have been able to give back to the community so much through that.  I hope that we can get donations enough to continue this program through the summer.”

The series has only one sponsor, Cole Sport, but is gaining more viewers every week.   Ioannides said most of the streams now have more viewers than can be seated in the Eccles Center.

Currently, he’s working to get performers, such as T-Bone Burnett, rescheduled for the near future.     

“So Stephanie Land is coming back.  I actually spoke to her agent yesterday.  We were looking to do something online, but we really feel like she needs to be here in person.  She’s excited to come back.   T Bone actually, before we cancelled, his doctor told him not to travel.  He’s a little older and in a high-risk category.  He wants to come back as well, but we’re gonna wait for them, for his doctor to say when it’s safe for him to come.   Another great artist who I’m super-excited about, kinda fits that same—David Foster, who produced so many great bands, including Celine Dion and the second version of Chicago.  So we’re having him and the same sorta thing.   He wants to make sure that it’s safe for him to travel.   So he’ll be back this winter.”

He added that another performer, Gretchen Wilson, had to be cancelled for a Pioneer Day show this summer, but they plan to get her back for the celebration in 2021.

He said it’s difficult to know when they can safely host shows in the Eccles, but they are working on a winter series of performances, as well as a speaker series.   

Finally, Ioannides said they’re hoping that patrons will make Sustaining Fund contributions.   You’re invited to go online to “parkcityinstitute.org.”