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Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam stepping down after over a decade

Keri Putnam.jpg
Posted at 2:40 PM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 17:20:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Keri Putnam, who has worked as CEO of the Sundance Institute for the last eleven years will step down at the end of August, the Institute announced Thursday.

"I could not be prouder of all we’ve accomplished together over this last decade," Putnam said in a statement. "With your support, the Sundance Institute has cultivated a vibrant worldwide community of fiercely independent artists."

In light of the pandemic, Putnam helped to take the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to a virtual platform, making it the largest Sundance audience the Institute has ever seen. Audiences from all 50 states and 120 countries were able to participate in the program.

Read: Sundance goes virtual; Park City businesses feel the impact

Putnam also spearheaded efforts to support artists seeking production, financing and distribution with programs such as "Catalyst," which helped to raise over $40 million in equity and grant investment. Catalyst creates partnerships between investors and filmmakers through engagement with the Sundance Institute community.

Highlighting historically underrepresented voices and providing a platform for diverse creativity has been a top priority for Putnam during her time with the Institute. With her help, programs for artists of color and artists with disabilities have been created and grown to bring more perspectives to the creative world.

In addition, Putnam and her team launched a fellowship to diversify critics covering the Sundance Festival.

"This year’s Festival was a powerful reminder that storytelling can not only entertain us — it can shine a light on the full range of human experiences, convey deeper truths, and shift our perspectives," Putnam said in a statement. "Storytelling can spark empathy and bring us together when we feel isolated and alone."

Not only has Putnam helped to grow the institution in Utah, she has also helped bring Sundance to a global audience with events and courses hosted all around the world.

Festivals have been established in London and Hong Kong, and programs have been created in Mexico, East Africa, the Middle East and in many cities around the United states.

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“As a fierce supporter of independent creators, Keri has been instrumental in seeing the Institute through a decade of transformation, while keeping a laser focus on Sundance’s mission of preserving, discovering, incubating, and encouraging independent artistry in all forms,” said Robert Redford, the Institute's founder and president in a press release. “We cannot overstate her impact, and we thank Keri for her invaluable service in support of independent artists.”

Putnam did not disclose her plans for the future, saying she's "excited to explore my next chapter over the coming months, pursuing new adventures and opportunities."

Putnam will be staying on in her role until August 31, 2021. The institute says Board of Trustees Chair Pat Mitchell and Vice-Chair Ebs Burnough will co-chair a search committee to identify the Sundance Institute’s next chief executive in the coming months.