The Sundance Institute announced on Monday that the 2021 edition of the Sundance Film Festival will go in a radically different direction as the components that make up Park City’s biggest winter event will disperse to at least 20 locations worldwide.
In a Monday message on the Sundance Institute’s website, new Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson outlined what the future of the iconic festival could look like, which still includes Park City.
Jackson said in the post the festival is actively planning around a public health scenario where no COVID-19 vaccine is available, but limited gatherings are allowed. With travel restrictions still in place and current Utah state policy limiting the size and scope of public events, a traditional Sundance experience in Park City is likely not possible for 2021.
Jackson adds that although they hope for a better outlook by the time the festival rolls around in January, the organization also sees the unique challenges of the moment as an opportunity to rethink the way the festival is done.
In addition to multiple venues in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Nashville, and Mexico City, an online hub will allow fans access to the festival through a curated program, live events, and discussions streamed through the platform.
The future economic impact of a reduced Sundance Film Festival is unclear. The economic impact report for the 2019 festival said the 10-day event brought over $182 million and 3,000 jobs to the state. With the Park City Chamber Bureau already budgeting for up to a 40% decrease in visitors over the coming winter’s peak months, further reductions to Sundance’s plans are likely to be another hit to Park City’s resort economy.
Jackson also says a start date of January 28 is also being considered to avoid conflicting with the presidential inauguration on January 20.