There's all sorts of news this week but not enough space in this column to cover it all. Here are three items that might interest you:
First, the Sundance Film Festival. I worked for the organization for several years when Sundance was small and there were few paparazzi or sparkle ponies waiting around for a photo op with a celeb. We had Jeeps loaned to us by a local dealership and condos donated by owners in the area, which was all we needed back then. Now the research group Y2 has found Sundance is the No. 1 cultural event in the state, with FanX as No. 2 and the Days of '47 parade No. 3. Visitor and ticket holders spent $191.6 million, with 64 percent of attendees being local and 36 percent visitors. Other interesting factoids: About 1 in 4 said they intended to hit the slopes during the event, students made up about 10 percent of the festival goers, and most of the out-of-staters were from California. Thanks, Robert Redford!
Next, the street art. Downtown SLC, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have created a new district called The Blocks (theblocksslc.com). Local leaders want you to stop saying "Let's head "downtown," rather, "Let's go to The Blocks." The area is kind of big though, encompassing the 40 blocks from North Temple to 400 South and 400 East to Interstate 15 (sorry Marmalade or Granary District). Nothing is changing physically about the area, just the name. This area and its facilities is simply getting a PR boost so that we start thinking of downtown as our cultural and entertainment destination. There's also more art and I've seen two new murals so far—one on the east side of the Walker Center building on Regent Street and the other on the wall at the 200 West underpass (under the convention center). More public art is always a great thing, right?
Finally, Jason Mathis, the president and CEO of the Downtown Alliance has resigned after 10 years to take a job in a similar position in St. Petersburg, Fla. I worked with him for years and can say he was a great spokesman for Eve/GreenBike, the farmers market and winter markets, Dine O'Round and more. Why he'd want to move to hot and humid Florida is beyond me, but, hey, have fun, kid!