Park City School District and the Park City Arts Foundation built a new auditorium at Park City High School using a $1 million gift from the George and Dolores Eccles Foundation. A joint operating agreement allows the school to use the auditorium 180 days of the year for regular assemblies and school productions. The George S. & Dolores Dore Eccles Center for the Performing Arts can use it on the other days as a stage for national touring artists. Each can use the auditorium during the other's time, with permission.[1, 5]
“We will use the center for a teaching and performance space for the students,” said Park City School District superintendent Nancy DeFord. “We will hold workshops and have various artists and performers visit with the students. It's also nice to be able to have a place where the whole student body can meet at once.”
The main auditorium seats 1,300 and an adjoining black box theater seats about 180. Both have state-of-the-art projection, sound, and lighting equipment.
The auditorium was scheduled to open 15 December 1997, but the grand opening of the Eccles Center was not held until 10 January 1998. Actor Robert Urich and his wife Heather emceed the event, which featured comedian Bill Cosby and live performances by Ballet West, the Utah Symphony, the Utah Opera, and the Calvary Baptist Choir. The following week, the Eccles Center served as the main hub of the Sundance Film Festival.
The Eccles Center created controversy by applying for a 72-hour liquor permit for its opening gala. Officials for the arts center believed they should be able to serve alcoholic beverages to adults attending events while school was not in session, but the Utah Board of Education passed an emergency rule to ensure no alcohol would be served on school grounds. The Park City Performing Arts Foundation later withdrew the license request and the Utah State Office of Education drafted a bill that would close any possible loophole.[1, 2, 3, 4]
1. "Eccles Center wants to offer alcohol at civic events", Deseret News, 02 November 1997 , page B4
2. "Enforce school alcohol ban, state urges", Deseret News, 08 November 1997 , page B1
3. "Board OKs liquor ban on school grounds", Deseret News, 03 December 1997 , page B4
4. "Arts group withdraws liquor request", Deseret News, 20 December 1997 , page B3
5. "Grand opening tonight for Park City arts center", Deseret News, 10 January 1998 , page E4