Sundance Film Festival Brings $191 Million In Economic Impact

Jul 18, 2018

Sundance Institute’s Economic Report says the 2018 Sundance Film Festival generated $191 Million in economic impact. Sundance Institute’s managing director and CFO, Betsy Wallace, reports that attendance was also up this year.

“The festival was really a great festival this past year and we are reporting attendance being up. I really want to point out also that with the city’s help and everybody’s help it really was a festival that had easier traffic to get around.” Wallace says, “I think even though the numbers seemed higher, it was really a concerted effort with everyone at this past festival.”

Sundance Institute’s Assistant Director of Administration and Government Relations, Morgan Everett, says Sundance Institute generated the report with help from Utah firms Y2 analytics, and Blyncsy.

“Y2 is the analytics firm that conducts our surveys, calculates all the data, and has a team of economists that come up with this final figure. Blyncsy has developed technology that allows us to anonymously track unique attendees of the festival; so that we can see how many people are on the ground. With our festival having so many different points of access it can be difficult with us just wanting to track unique attendees to actually know how many people are on the ground.” Everett continues, “What a lot of festivals and events will do, is a gate count. So, if one person comes through the door four times, they’re going to get counted four times. Through this technology we’re able to see individuals. No matter how many films you go and see, you’re only counted once.”

The report says the new theatre in Park City, The Ray, was able to allow for an additional 17,349 seats to be filled by movie-goers during the festival. The economic report also highlights that the festival helped support 3,323 jobs.

“That jobs figure will also take into account all of the economy around the festival to support all the visitors who are coming here.” Everett explains, “they’re staying in hotels, they’re eating at restaurants, they’re recreating, they’re doing all these things. All those activities with these millions and millions of outside dollars coming into the state of Utah help support those jobs as well.”

Wallace says they track the spending in part by issuing surveys as well as checking the figures with local chambers of commerce.

“We really break it down into components: lodging, food and beverage, transportation. When we interview people through our surveys we ask them in those broad categories ‘how much do you spend in general?’” Wallace explains, “From that we have our economists go back and validate all that with chambers of both Salt Lake and with Park City and look for different ways to make sure that those numbers are realistic.”

Everett also reported that 124,900 people attended from 49 states and 26 foreign countries.

“The out of state visitors to the Sundance Film Festival, which overall make up about one-third of visitors, they’re spending 85% of all of the spending around the festival. So, we have a lot of outside dollars from the state coming in, to bolster the economy of Utah.” Everett said, “Each out of state visitor on average is spending over $3,500 during the festival.”

The report also states the festival generated over $19 million in State and Local taxes. Wallace emphasized that the report shows that arts and culture are an important part of the economic make up of Utah.

“It all comes back to the state of Utah, and the communities here. Those numbers really help bolster the businesses around town, the businesses around the state.” Wallace says, “(It) marks that the arts and culture is a great economic driver for the state. We have to remember that arts and culture really is vibrant in the state of Utah.”