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Sundance asks Summit County for $130k after missing grant deadline

Sundance Institute
Moviegoers gather for a summertime Local Lens Screening, where the Sundance Institute shows some of its festival's features in Summit County free of charge.

The Sundance Institute's local screenings and educational programs could be funded with restaurant tax leftovers instead.

Summit County sales taxes have historically funded part of the Sundance Institute’s operations.

This year, the county moved the deadline a month earlier for cultural organizations to apply for the money. Summit County Manager Shayne Scott believes it was an honest mistake.

“They didn't just forget to do it, or put it off, they had an application all put together,” he said on the "Local News Hour."

Summit County staff sent a courtesy email to previous grant applicants, which informed them of the deadline this year. They also posted the new deadline on social media.

Due to Sundance staff turnover, Scott said, the courtesy email may not have reached a current Sundance employee.

He said individual organizations are responsible for checking deadlines, so the film nonprofit will miss out on the 2024 Cultural RAP tax grant.

“We're trying to see if there's another way we can meet this need,” Scott said. “One of the ideas we have is to maybe meet that need through restaurant tax funds.”

The county restaurant tax collected over $4.5 million dollars last year. 90% of that is distributed through the Restaurant Tax Grant, finalized April 24.

That leaves about $450,000 for “county sponsored projects.”

Sundance is asking for $130,000, and the council may decide to allocate that money at its May 1 meeting.

According to the institute’s grant application, the money will fund year-round local screenings and panel discussions, plus screenings for students. That includes the free Local Lens screenings during the summer, but not the film festival itself.

“It would be naive of me to say that we're not in a kind of a tenuous situation with Sundance right now,” Scott said. “We want to make sure they know how important our partnership is, and their 40 years here in our community, and what we can do to help—especially since it's funding a local community program.”

Scott said there is precedent for this. County attorneys believe another organization, not Sundance, missed a grant application in the past and was successfully funded with restaurant tax leftovers.

The Sundance Institute announced earlier this month that it will consider new locations for the film festival after the 2026 edition.

Park City is planning to bid for the festival to return, but Atlanta, Minneapolis and San Francisco have announced bids too.

The Slamdance Film Festival, founded in 1995, announced Tuesday it will move from Park City to Los Angeles in 2025.

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