Some Favorite Sites
Government/ Community Links
3.7 x 2.7 x 127.88 ...
by Allan Appel | Oct 1, 2013 7:41 am
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Business/ Economic Development
If you hung out in town for precisely 3.7 days with your beautiful family of 2.7 folks in tow, and spent precisely $127.88 on goodies to eat, a place to stay, entertainment, and transportation over a two-week period last year, then you are a typical visitor to this year’s International Arts & Ideas Festival.
You might be typical, but never fear the ordinary: With 138,984 more just like you, you are collectively stellar and record-breaking: You have contributed to the local economy a whopping sum total of $34 million.
Those numerical claims for the 2013 Arts & Ideas Festival —direct and induced “economic impact”—were announced Monday night at press conference atop the Study at Yale Hotel, with a glorious over-the-rooftops view of the town that the arts are helping to make thrive.
That alleged impact for this summer’s 18th annual festival is a huge leap from the reported $25 million in the previous year or the reported $16 million economic impact in 2011.
Even though 85 percent of the events were free, the number of attendees at the 11 percent of the ticketed events leaped 75 percent a to record 15,609 people.
The numerical tale was narrated Monday evening by the festival’s board chair Gordon Geballe, Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie, and other officials before an audience of about 50, including the festival’s major sponsors and friends.
The festival’s press release ascribed the highest economic impact in the festival’s history to increased attendance at ticketed events, extended visits to the region as a result—if you were average, you hung out in town over the two weeks for 3.7 days—- and higher per-capita visitor spending.
Aleskie said she was particularly pleased that the festival made more money for itself and local hotels, restaurants, and vendors, while providing more free and neighborhood programs than ever.
When Aleskie became chief of the festival eight years ago, the state offered a $1 million annual subsidy. Now the subsidy has dropped to $750,000. The festival and its impact have been growing nevertheless.
That $750,000 of state money is approximately a quarter of the $3 million annual budget. Into the gap have stepped private and corporate supporters, to the tune of 65 percent of the budget, with ticket sales amounting to 10 percent of the festival’s income, Aleskie said.
Aleskie called the figures markers of positive momentum. There was minatory undertone to her assessment: “We’ve made as much as we can with as little as possible. We are as lean and mean as we can get and still have the punch.”
The figures of economic impact have been consistently calculated the same way for the 18 years of the festival’s history by Mark Paul Gius, a professor of economics at Quinnipiac University, said festival staffers.
Community Foundation For Greater New Haven President Will Ginsberg called the stats a testimony to the power of art to fill hotel rooms. He called the festival a signature cultural event indispensable to New Haven’s sense of community.
State Sen. Marty Looney (pictured) said the festival is a reminder that New Haven remains the cultural hub of the region. “Whatever the calendar says, we know the real beginning of summer is when the festival starts,” he said.
Other fun facts about the festival: Half the visitors hailed from the city itself, with 40 percent from other parts of the state, and 10 percent from out of state, including visitors from as far away as California and Ethiopia.
Of the 817 artists and speakers, 474 came from Connecticut; that number includes 268 from New Haven.