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Sundance Film Festival: $465 Million in Economic Impact Over Last 5 Years

Deadline logo Deadline 6/14/2017 David Robb
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The Sundance Film Festival has pumped nearly half a billion dollars into Utah’s economy and created more than 8,400 jobs over the last five years, according to a new report from Y2 Analytics. The report found that in addition to the festival’s $465 million in economic impact, it contributed more than $41.6 million in state and local tax revenue.

The report (read it here) makes the case that with President Donald Trump’s threat to eviscerate support for the arts, film festivals like Sundance remain viable and self-sustaining cultural enclaves and economic engines for growth.

For this year’s edition, more than 71,600 people attended the festival, which was held January 19-29. More than half were out-of-state visitors who spent an estimated $124 million in Utah during the festival, the report shows. Utah residents, meanwhile, spent more than $25 million, not including the purchase of tickets to the festival.

The Sundance Institute spent an estimated $17.5 million to put on the festival – $10.8 million of which was spent in Utah.

In 2017, the festival contributed $151.5 million to the state’s gross domestic product; created 2,778 jobs for Utah residents; generated $79 million in Utah wages and $14 million in state and local tax revenue, according to Y2.

About 26% of non-residents attending the festival came from California; 15% came from Illinois; 13% from Nevada; 10% from New York; 7% from Pennsylvania; 7% from Colorado; 2% from Texas; 14% from other states, and 2% from 18 different countries. Mexicans (39%) led all foreign nationals attending the festival, followed by Australians (14.8%), Canadians (14.4%) and Brits (12.7%).

“Spending during the Sundance Film Festival generates many positive economic benefits,” the report found. “Tourism-related industries are beneficiaries of spending that would not otherwise be part of the state’s economy, and that spending entering the state induces additional spending as companies hire additional labor, increase their capacity, and purchase the goods that are necessary to accommodate the additional visitors.”

Although an industry event, most attendees this year (76%) were not entertainment industry professionals. About 10% of non-resident participants were students, and about 1% were press. Nearly one-in-three attendees had annual incomes exceeding $200,000, while only 1-in9 had annual incomes of less than $35,000.

Several other sources of economic activity were not included in the report, which omitted impacts due to spending by official festival sponsors, unaffiliated businesses that operated around the event, airport taxes for attendees that traveled through Salt Lake International Airport, and secondary spending by visitors who returned to the state post-festival. The report noted that these data sources were not included because they had not been made available to either the Sundance Institute or to the Y2 Analytics research team.

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