Park City Institute Celebrates its 20th Year of Celebrating the Arts
Twenty years ago, Park City was an oft en overlooked ski resort still struggling to secure its identity. The 2002 Winter Olympics helped defi ne the town, but those who called Park City home in the decades prior to the Games always believed it had more to off er than just good snow. But what that was exactly, was a bit of a mystery.
“Back then, we used words like ‘potential’ and ‘promising’ a lot,” said Teri Orr, executive director of the Park City Institute. “We knew Park City could be more than just a winter playground, but we didn’t know what else was needed, or how to build it.”
When she moved here in 1979, Teri wasn’t too focused on turning her new town into a world-class arts community. She was a single mother, just trying to get by and raise her children. “I’d fl ed a bad marriage. My only real goal was survival. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the arts. My kids needed clothes, I wasn’t focused on culture.”
But in the years that followed, Teri began to see the parallels between a thriving community and the humanities, and over time began to assemble what is now known as the Park City Institute. Though it was never her plan, putting Park City in the cultural spotlight was going to be her new full-time job. Planning, it turns out, wasn’t anyone’s strong suit back then.
“We were mostly volunteers hoping to create a performance space, though we had no idea what would go in it. We just assumed we’d ski all day and go see “Cats” at night. But none of us gave any thought to how “Cats” would be programed. It never really occurred to us that someone was going to have to book the shows,” she recalled with a laugh. “Suddenly, I realized we couldn’t fund this building unless we were booking acts and selling tickets.”
So Teri quickly became a self-educated programmer, talent scout, show marketer, and ticket seller.
Today, things are a bit more strategic, and the Institute regularly books Broadway performers, Grammy-winning singers, and thought provoking, if not controversial, speakers, like Edward Snowden. Th is year’s lineup is no exception to the Institute’s well-deserved reputation as a culture coup.
This season, we’re offering a mix of mind-bending dance, inspiring theater, world-renowned musicians, authors, thinkers, and leaders—both legendary and emerging,” Teri noted. “Audiences will discover new talent, enjoy performing legends, and engage with cutting-edge speakers.”
One of this season’s speakers is Monica Lewinsky. Her January 6th talk is the fi rst ticketed event she’s agreed to since she became a household name during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
“Ms. Lewinsky was really patient zero in the world of cyber bullying,” Teri explained. “She is a powerful advocate for a safer and more compassionate social media
environment, and it’s fi tting she’ll be on our stage during our 20th anniversary, 20 years aft er the impeachment proceedings that made her reluctantly famous.”
Th e Institute’s 20th season kicks off December 9th with five-time GRAMMY winner and Blues Hall of Fame member Robert Cray. parkcityinstitute.org.