Episode: Music Festivals Increasingly Promote Their Value to Tourism and Economy

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Music Festivals Increasingly Promote Their Value to Tourism and Economy

"Art for art's sake?" Not any more. A growing number of economic impact studies conducted by arts groups suggest that music festivals have a big impact on local economies.

"If you do these studies and show them to government officials, they might be more willing to invest in the arts in their own communities," says Timothy Mangan, the classical music critic of the Orange County Register, who recently reported on the issue in Southern California. Mangan found that festivals and venues in Orange County have sought to demonstrate how they create jobs, generate tax revenue, benefit hotels and cause a ripple effect to tourist businesses.

A few years ago, arts groups in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts sought to make a similar case. They commissioned a study which found that the arts bring some 6,000 jobs to the region, and help sustain local restaurants and hotels. "The creative economy is incredibly important to this area at a time when manufacturing has moved out of the area," Julia Dixon, head of Berkshire Creative, tells Naomi Lewin. Dixon particularly cites cities like North Adams (home to MASS MoCA) and Pittsfield (which, for a decade, battled downtown vacancy with the Storefront Artist Project).

But even as cultural tourism has evolved, festivals are not a surefire economic booster to regional economies. Their programming has to be unique enough that visitors will come in the first place, and communities must work to exploit their assets while also managing traffic, parking and potential environmental effects.

Listen to the full discussion above and tell us: Do you travel to music festivals? How do you spend money outside of the arts events themselves? Please leave a comment below.

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