Sundance Film Festival an $80 million impact, report says

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The big stars and "star gazers" that come to the Sundance Film Festival spend big bucks.

The Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Utah reported Wednesday that the 2012 Sundance Film Festival generated an overall economic impact of $80 million for the state.

Total festival-related spending increased 15 percent over 2011 levels, driven by increases in lodging expenditures and retail purchases.

"The 2012 Sundance Film Festival was a resounding success from a number of perspectives, and we are pleased to see the positive impact it continues to have each year on the state's economy," said Jill Miller, managing director of Sundance Institute.

The economic impacts of nonresident visitor spending during the 2012 event included $69.7 million in gross state product and $36 million in earnings for Utah workers. The report showed that level of earnings supported 1,376 jobs in the state, generated $4.5 million in state tax revenue and $2 million in tax revenue for local governments over the 10-day period of the festival from January 19 to January 29.

The report also noted that the economic impacts of spending in Utah by the Sundance Institute to produce the festival included $10.5 million in gross state product and $4.5 million in earnings for Utah workers — a level of earnings that supported 355 jobs, generated almost $397,000 in state tax revenue and about $90,000 in revenue for local governments. Those impacts occurred between September 2011 and February 2012.

"Nationwide it is proven that the arts boost tourism, create jobs, increase educational outreach and support local businesses and we are proud to be a strong example of this," said Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam.

An estimated 46,731 people attended the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 — a two percent increase over the 2011 and a 13 percent increase over 2010 attendance.

Nonresident attendees accounted for 66.6 percent of all festival attendees in 2012, or 31,121 visitors — virtually the same ratio of nonresident attendees estimated last year and attracted an estimated 5,795 international visitors this year.

During the festival, attendees spent a total of $67.1 million — $63.2 million from nonresidents and $3.9 million from local residents.

Spending per person averaged $1,437, with nonresidents spending a total of $2,032 per person during their stay and Utah residents spending an average of $250. The report defined total spending as the sum of the average daily amounts that each attendee spent during their stay in Utah.

"We are proud to be the official Sundance Film Festival host state and appreciate both the economic value it brings to Utah as well as the invaluable cultural and artistic benefit to residents and visitors alike," said Gov. Gary Herbert. "Our collaboration with Sundance Institute is multidimensional, and we are grateful to continue working together to attract the attention of international business leaders, highlight Utah’s commerce friendly dynamic and drive economic benefit to the state."

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com
Twitter: JasenLee1

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