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Sundance Festival’s Economic Impact Jumps Up 26% From 2017, Study Says

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival generated a total economic impact of $191.6 million — up 26% from the 2017 event, a study released Tuesday showed.

The Sundance Institute said that the increase from the 11-day festival was due partly to the addition of the 500-seat Ray Theatre, a custom-built two-story venue used for the New Frontier VR section, and an expanded section dedicated to episodic work.

The economic impact study, conducted by Y2 Analytics, determined that the 2018 festival generated over $19 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 3,323 jobs; and attracted more than 124,900 attendees from 49 states and 26 foreign countries. Attendance was up 74% from 71,600 in 2017.

Robert Redford launched the festival in 1978 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It moved to Park City in 1981, when Redford founded the non-profit Sundance Institute to support independent filmmakers.

This year’s economic impact brought the five-year cumulative total since 2014 to $585.4 million, with more than $55 million in state and local tax revenue generated and more than 10,300 jobs supported.

“More than ever, the people of Utah and our business community appreciate the unique benefits provided by the Sundance Film Festival,” said Governor Gary Herbert. “We look forward to our ongoing work together and the positive collaboration between Sundance Institute and the State.”

Of the 124,900 attendees, the festival brought in 45,000 out-of-state visitors (an approximate increase of 7,500 people from 2017) and over 1,000 international visitors. The report found that 20% of out-of-state attendees indicated this was their first visit to Utah and 89% said they would likely visit Utah again within the next year.

Per-person spending for out-of-town visitors averaged $3,518 with a median stay of five days.

Lodging generated a total of $62.6 million in attendee spending. The second-largest expense was in recreation and entertainment with $49.9 million total attendee spending generated. Efforts to mitigate traffic and congestion contributed to $20.1 million spent on transportation methods.

“Each year the full extent of the economic benefits of the arts has become more apparent, and we’re very proud of the role Sundance Institute and our Festival have played in demonstrating these benefits and bringing them to Utah,” said Betsy Wallace, chief financial officer and managing director of the Sundance Institute. “We’re grateful for all of the continued support we receive and to be able to showcase all that Utah has to offer to audiences around the world.”

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