Over the past year Park City Film has worked hard to implement changes to the historic Jim Santy Auditorium to create a more comfortable and inclusive space that can accommodate all members of our film loving community. In consultation with community members of diverse abilities that utilize the space, we have re-worked the seating pattern to improve visibility of the screen (important for reading sub-titles for foreign language and open captioned films), introduced more accessible seating options and increased the width of our new theater seats.
Using grant funding received from Utah Arts and Museums, Park City Film commissioned a sight line study of the Santy Auditorium as we prepared to replace the seats in the theater. We knew that we would not be able to increase the pitch (slope) of the theater floor, but also that the classic auditorium style of seating was not sufficient for the needs and viewing experience of our film patrons. The architecture film CRSA has a great history of working with historic theaters and we were thrilled to able to work with them to design a new seating pattern for the theater that not only improved visibility of the screen, but also updated the placement of our wheelchair spots and staggered the width of our seats throughout the theater to ensure better access and comfort.
In the new seating design, four of the designated wheelchair spots (out of new total of 6) are now placed on the center aisle. Additionally, 22 transfer arms have been added to seats on the inside and outside aisles to enable easier access to some of our wider seats and more accessible seating throughout the theater. The new seats in the theater also now vary in width from 21″ to 24″ to accommodate a more diverse range of body types and increase comfort. The new seats were purchased from Irwin Seating Company, the gold standard in theater seating, and have ergonomic seat cushions and updated upholstery. Funding for the new seats was provided by Summit County Restaurant Tax Grant and Park City Municipal Corp.
In addition to the recent updates, Park City Film also has in place a number of accessibility features that were added to the theater in 2014. Patrons that are deaf or hard of hearing have access to Closed Caption readers that attach to the armrests of individual seats and Assisted Listening headsets to boost the existing audio specific to each individual ear.
Additionally, for individuals with visual impairments, Audio Descriptions for films are made available through personal headsets. Audio Descriptions provide verbal details of on-screen actions that are important to the plot of the story and present an enriched cinematic experience for individuals that are not able to interpret the visual images on the screen.
The accessibility features in the Jim Santy Auditorium have been made possible by grant funding received from Summit County Restaurant Tax, Utah Arts and Museums, with funding support from the Utah Legislature and National Endowment for the Arts, and the Katherine W. & Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Foundation. Additional support was also received from Park City Municipal Corporation and Sundance Institute.
More information can be found at https://parkcityfilm.org/about/accessibility/