Arts & Ideas announces highest economic impact in its 18-year history at Festival 2013

October 1, 2013


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NEW HAVEN—The International Festival of Arts & Ideas today announced the results of a highly successful Festival 2013, which generated an economic impact of $34.3 million according to an Economic Impact Study conducted by Quinnipiac University. This impact figure is the highest in the Festival’s history, generated as a result of increased attendance at ticketed events, extended visits to the region as a result of Festival activities and higher reported visitor spending.

“We’re thrilled with what we were able to achieve at Festival 2013 and proud that the Festival continues to play an active role in making our Connecticut community a vibrant, prosperous place,” said the Festival’s Executive Director, Mary Lou Aleskie. “We had a very well-received artistic program this year, and I think that audiences responded by turning out in enthusiastic numbers to have a great time. Also important for us, from a mission perspective, ticketing and overall spending increased without a negative impact on our free and open-to-all programs.”

The Festival’s 170 events attracted 138,985 attendees. 85% of those events were free to the public. This success was a result of considerable investment and support from the State of Connecticut, Yale University, the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, and First Niagara; all marquee sponsors of the event.

Said David Ring, marquee sponsor First Niagara’s New England Regional President and Managing Director of Enterprise Banking, “Today’s economic impact numbers are proof that our support of the Festival isn’t just an investment in New Haven’s arts community; it’s an investment in the local economy, and in the businesses and neighborhoods of New Haven.”

The Festival’s Board Chairperson Gordon Geballe adds, “We are thankful to sponsors, supporters, and visitors for making this happen. The Festival has always sought to be a lively place for cultural activity and an economic driver for our region, and this year’s result goes a long way in proving why we continue to do what we do each June.”

Economic impact was determined by analyzing attendance figures and reported visitor behavior with an in-depth survey of Festival attendees, along with analysis of attendance figures and ticket sales. Visitors to the Festival reported spending an average of $127.88 on food, retail, lodging, and transportation—up 21% from Festival 2012—and reported staying at the Festival for an average of 3.7 days. Visitors tended to attend the Festival in groups of at least 2 or more.

“We continue to find that the Festival is an event that draws great crowds of people from around the region who want to stay in Connecticut and spend money here,” said Aleskie “Visitor spending, combined with the Festival’s investment in jobs and local services necessary to produce the Festival, are generating further revenue for our state.”

Compared to other festivals in the United States, the Festival attracts more visitors and spending per capita over the 15-day Festival period. Said Aleskie, “We’re proud to say that the Festival generally has a greater impact on Connecticut than many other cultural events and festivals that occur nationally. This is partly due to the length of the Festival but also, we believe, due to the investments we make in keeping this festival open-access for all visitors while staying deeply engaged with the business community.”

Additional Study Findings

  • 11% of Festival attendees (15,609) were counted at ticketed events, an increase of 75% over Festival 2012; the increase is partly attributable to a larger number of ticketed events offered as well as longer runs of high-capacity events.
  • Attendees at ticketed events reported higher overall spending on food, shopping, and other related expenditures during their visits as compared to attendees at free events, contributing to the higher overall economic impact result.
  • 89% of attendees (123,444) enjoyed the Festival’s free programming, including headline concerts on the Green that individually attracted between 10,000 and 20,000 visitors each weekend evening.
  • 159 staff in both seasonal and full-time positions were engaged.
  • Dozens of Connecticut vendors, venues, and rental companies were brought in to help stage the Festival and provide materials, with some vendor relationships spanning the 18-year history of the Festival.

This year’s free events included lectures and conversations in the Festival’s Ideas series, master classes, walking tours, and more. The headline concert series this year was highlighted by Aaron Neville’s opening night concert, sponsored by First Niagara, and, on the Festival’s middle weekend, a special concert from acclaimed new-music ensemble the Kronos Quartet to kick-off its 40th anniversary season. Also on opening night, the State of Connecticut Governor’s Arts Awards were given to Elizabeth Alexander, Olu Oguibe, and Jimmy Greene on the New Haven Green stage before a crowd of 20,000 spectators; the celebration of Connecticut artists featured a message from Governor Dannel Malloy as well as performances and readings of the honored artists’ work.

Ticketed events this year included several high-profile attractions, including a new production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from the Tony Award-winning creators of War Horse; as well as David Dimitri’s L’homme Cirque, which delighted visitors on the New Haven Green every day of the Festival with a jaw-dropping high-wire walk over the green.

817 artists and speakers performed or spoke at the Festival, representing 18 countries. Their engagements at the Festival utilized 541 hotel nights in the Greater New Haven area. As part of its showcase of arts and culture from around the world, the Festival also works to offer a showcase to artists from the Connecticut region, with this year showing 474 artists from Connecticut, including musicians, theater companies, and dancers.

This release includes a breakdown of facts and figures from the Economic Impact Study (see below). The data to create this report was compiled and analyzed by Quinnipiac University, under the direction of Dr. Mark Paul Gius.

Festival 2013 Facts

Economic impact: $34.3 million ($34,342,043)
Increase of 37% from Festival 2012

Festival Budget for 2013: $3.05 million

Total attendance at all events:: 138,985
Attendance at free events: 123,444 (89%)
Attendance at ticketed events: 15,609 (11%)

Percentage of visitors, by region
Greater New Haven area: 50%
Other areas of CT: 39.9%
Out-of-State: 10.1%
(largest number of out-of-state visitors from New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, California)

Number of events: 174
Free events (85%): 148
Ticketed events (15%): 126

Per-capita spending (visitors): $127.88 average

Seasonal & Full-time Staff: 159

Artists & speakers: 817
US-based 696
International 121

Of US-based artists:
Connecticut-based 474 (268 from New Haven)
National 222

About the International Festival of Arts & Ideas

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is a 15-day festival of performing arts, lectures, and conversations that celebrates the greatest artists and thinkers from around the world. Each June, the Festival takes over the theaters, open spaces, and courtyards of New Haven, Connecticut with performances and dialogues that tickle the senses, engage the mind, and inspire the soul.

More than 80% of Festival programs are completely free to the public, including events that feature some of the most prestigious jazz, classical, dance, and theater artists in the world. The Festival’s programs have an impact throughout the year, including engagement and educational programming such as the Festival Fellowship Program for underserved youth, and the Visionary Leadership Award held in autumn of each year.

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas was established in 1996 by Anne Calabresi, Jean Handley and Roslyn Meyer. The founders envisioned an annual celebration in New Haven - a small city rich with diversity and steeped in strong cultural and educational traditions - distinguished from established arts festivals by its fusion of ideas events. Their aim was to gather world-class artists and pre-eminent thinkers from around the globe, showcasing the city and the state as a major arts destination.

The Festival was presented with major support from the State of Connecticut, as well as marquee sponsors Yale University, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, First Niagara, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Festival’s Economic Impact Study was collected and analyzed by Dr. Mark Paul Gius, Professor of Economics at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business. Dr. Gius and Quinnipiac University have collected and analyzed the Festival’s economic impact since the Festival’s inception in 1996.