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Study: Festival adds millions to economy

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Staff Writer | March 30, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Despite bigger costs, bigger concerts and a pandemic, the Festival at Sandpoint continues to have a huge economic impact in the region.

A study, released by the Festival at Sandpoint this week, found the summer music series has a conservative direct economic impact of $3.8 million in the county. In addition, the study found the Festival generates over $233,000 in city, county, and state taxes and creates the equivalent of 37 full-time jobs throughout Sandpoint.

"In addition to enhancing the cultural, educational, and recreational environment of Sandpoint, FAS is an important contributor to the regional economy," Festival officials said in announcing the study's findings.

Conducted in fall 2022 by the University of Idaho, the study assessed both the festival's economic contributions and the economic impact of the summer music series on the county.

"Despite new costly operations at Memorial Field, bigger concerts, and recovery from pandemic seasons, over the past ten years, the Festival’s impact has grown by 58% in regional sales, 61% in gross regional product, 57% in total compensation, 47% in jobs created, and 96% in tax contribution," Festival officials said in announcing the study's results.

The study evaluated both the Festival's direct and indirect impacts in the region to give a full look at how the Festival impacts the community. The direct impact looks at job creation, payroll, gross regional product, and sales that directly result from the summer music series. The indirect looks at how the Festival impacts regional businesses providing goods or services to the Festival, and the effect of employee and consumer spending on the economy.

During the 2022 summer music series, the time frame covered by the study, the Festival sold 29,278 tickets — roughly 59% of Bonner County's population. Of those, about 15% were bought by local residents, with a predominance of those from Sandpoint. Another 58% were from another location in Idaho, 26% were from out of state and 1% were from another country.

"The approximately 85% of patrons that do not reside in Bonner County bring new monies to the Sandpoint economy, thus creating substantial economic impacts," Festival officials said. "The economic impacts for FAS visitor spending include patron eating and drinking, retail purchases, and housing accommodations, which totals $2,158,221 in sales transactions."

Conducted in 2012, the last economic-impact study found the Festival had an economic impact on the local economy of more than $3 million and created the equivalent of 35 full-time jobs.

Of those attending Festival concerts in 2012, 52% were from out of state, most were couples, and the average ticket holder spent $62 per visit on dining and $49 on shopping. In the first study, the University of Idaho's College of Business and Economics found that the summer music series generated over $100,000 in Idaho sales and property taxes.

Music education programs offered to local students affected roughly 1,000 students each year, according to the 2012 study.

"If the Festival did not exist, the regional economy would shrink by this much during the time period," officials wrote in the first study. "This does not include significant indirect or trickle-down effect."

The Festival's total operating revenue in Fiscal Year 2021 was $1.691 million, including COVID-19 funds. For FY2022, that amount is projected to be $2.587 million. Roughly 77% goes toward programs, 19% on administration, and 4% on fundraising. Of that revenue, the study found that roughly 64% comes from ticket sales, 21% from grants, and 16% from fundraising.

The Festival has five full-time employees, 22 part-time employees, and independent contractors, and about 600 volunteers. With an average of 40 hours contributed per volunteer, that adds up to an estimated $669,600 in community value, according to the study.

Information: bit.ly/3G3QTcB

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