Axios Salt Lake City

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1 big thing: Other cities eye Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival signage in Park City, Utah. Photo: Mat Hayward/Getty Images

Yesterday was the deadline for U.S. cities to place their bids to host the Sundance Film Festival starting in 2027, and a few surprising contenders have emerged.

State of play: So far, officials in Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Savannah, Georgia, have said they planned to place bids to become the new home for the largest independent film festival in the U.S., per multiple reports.

Catch up quick: Sundance Institute, the nonprofit behind the film festival, announced last month that it was exploring relocation and began accepting bids on April 17.

  • It's not guaranteed that the festival will move out of Utah.

Yes, but: Attendees have long complained about bumper-to-bumper traffic, frigid temperatures and expensive lodging in the resort town.

Between the lines: Denver and Cleveland don't plan to throw their hats in the ring, with leaders saying they'd rather invest in their local film festivals.

By the numbers: Last year's event drew nearly 87,000 in-person attendees, with out-of-state visitors spending about $97 million in Utah during the festival, per an economic impact report prepared by Y2 Analytics.

What's next: Sundance Institute will select potential cities to submit proposals from May 7 through June 21.

  • A final site location is expected to be announced at the end of the year or early 2025.

2. 🗣️ What other Axios Local cities have to say

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

We asked our Axios Local colleagues to chime in and make a case for moving the festival to their towns.

Axios Twin Cities' Kyle Stokes: Downtown's theater district has three gorgeous, historic venues. Two of the best regional art centers in the U.S. — the Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center — could also supply world-class spaces.

  • Plus, Minnesota gave the film world the Coen brothers, Pixar director Pete Docter and "Jingle All The Way" (a classic). We're due.

Axios San Francisco's Megan Rose Dickey: There are plenty of venues, many of them historic, to choose from.

  • Sundance could screen films at the iconic Roxie Theater or the state-of-the-art Premier Theater in the historic Presidio National Park.
  • Sure, it might mean the end of Sundance ski traditions, but there's an opportunity for new traditions to be made. Perhaps sailing in the Bay?

Axios Atlanta's Thomas Wheatley: Come on down South.

  • Hollywood's plenty familiar with Georgia thanks to the state's lucrative tax credit, wealth of production talent and our variety of locations. (No desert, unfortunately.)
  • Atlanta's airport serves more than 220 domestic and international destinations, and our growing film community has plenty of cinemas to host screenings, including The Plaza Theatre and Tara Atlanta.

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3. Fry Sauce: A swirl of headlines

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏰 Park City officials must reconsider their approval of a controversial 11,300-square-foot mansion proposed above the Old Town historic district by Cloudflare founder Matthew Prince, under an appeal board's decision on Tuesday. (KPCW)

🤢 Utahns should check their walnuts due to an E. coli outbreak linked to Gibson Farm nuts sold in several states. (CNN)

😽 Federal agents are investigating a series of bomb threats at Payson Middle School since video of students protesting "furries" circulated around right-wing social media circles. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

  • The online frenzy prompted allegations that children, claiming to be animals, were biting and scratching their classmates without reprisal. School officials say those rumors are false.

4. 📉 Utah Pride Center to reduce spending on festival

Chad Call of the Utah Pride Center. Photo: Kim Bojórquez/Axios.

Utah Pride Center leaders plan to rein in spending at the annual pride festival after the LGBTQ+ advocacy group has dealt with financial turmoil and two rounds of layoffs in the past year.

State of play: The center will scale back on staging and production planned for the 2024 event and hire local talent to "mitigate some of the performance fees," the nonprofit's new executive director Chad Call told reporters on Wednesday from its new downtown Salt Lake City headquarters.

Follow the money: Last year's pride festival ran "hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt," The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

  • He told reporters the center is "stable right now, financially."

What they're saying: Call said he empathized with community members frustrated by the center's constant changes and turnover.

  • "It's clear to me that despite all the turmoil and change that this organization is still wanted," he said. "It's still needed by the community, and I'm hoping that we could still provide that stability."

What's next: The Utah Pride Parade is slated for June 1-2.

  • Single-day tickets and two-day packages are available.

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5. 🥳 Your weekend mixtape

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Whew! It's a busy weekend in Utah — not even counting the May Day festival and May the Fourth Star Wars events we already told you about.

Here's what's good for SLC's first weekend of May.

Cinco de Mayo Events

Draper's Cinco (well, Quatro): Come to Draper Park for lots of food trucks, live performances and other free family activities.

  • When: 6pm-8:30pm Saturday

Fiesta 5K: Lace up your sneakers for Sandy's spring race 9am at Falcon Park.

  • Registration: $30 in advance, $40 day-of, with discounts for groups and families.

Millcreek Fiesta: Enjoy authentic food, roller skating, a giant piñata, live music and other performances at a free family fiesta.

  • When and where: 4pm-10pm Saturday, Millcreek Commons

Tacos & Margs Crawl: Join the crowd for food, bevvys and live entertainment at four bars around town, starting at Gracie's at 2pm Saturday.

  • Tickets: $24.99 or $64.99 for VIP tickets with a pre-party and extra tacos.

ICYMI: How to Cinco de Mayo responsibly

More festivals, parties and markets

Thanks to Axios Denver's Alayna Alvarez and Chicago's Carrie Shepherd for contributing to today's 1 big thing!

🎂 Kim is celebrating her two-year work anniversary with Axios.

🪐 Erin is convinced it doesn't matter which syllable you stress: Uranus is a terrible name for a beautiful planet, and Earthlings should change it.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by Natasha Danielle Smith and Bryan McBournie.