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Sundance Film Festival 2019 Generated $182 Million in Economic Impact for Utah (Study)

People walk by the Egyptian Theater
George Frey/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutters

The 2019 Sundance Film Festival generated $182.5 million in economic impact for the state of Utah, declining 4.7% from last year, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The 11-day festival attracted more than 122,000 attendees from 48 states and 35 foreign countries, a drop of about 2,900 from 2018. The studies on both years were conducted by Y2 Analytics.

The study also determined that the 2019 festival generated more than $18.6 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 3,052 jobs; and generated $94 million in Utah wages. The festival’s five-year cumulative total since 2015 amounts to $681.5 million, with more than $66.7 million in state and local tax revenue generated and over 11,900 jobs supported.

“Since its founding, the Sundance Film Festival has become an important part of the cultural and economic fabric of Utah,” said Governor Gary Herbert. “Utah is a great destination for tourists year round, but during the Festival we really get to engage in the worlds of film and the arts. We appreciate our ongoing partnership with Sundance Institute”

Of the 2019 attendees, over 43,500 came from out-of-state, contributing $170.6 million of the total impact.

“On top of our exciting screenings and live programming, the Sundance Film Festival is proud to bring an increasingly wide and diverse audience from around the globe to Utah each year to support both our artists and our home state,” said Betsy Wallace, managing director of Sundance Institute. “We’re grateful for our
audiences’ dedication, as well as the wide-ranging benefits that they bring, especially in allowing us to showcase the state of Utah to the world.”

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.

About 122,313 attendees filled 229,242 seats at events over the course of the festival. An estimated 64% of attendees were Utah residents, while about 37% of non-residents came from California, 10% from New York, 5% from Texas, 5% from Illinois, 4% from Florida, 3% from Colorado, 3% from Massachusetts and 33% from other states.

The survey also found that 93% of non-resident attendees reported attending multiple days of the festival, with 62% of non-residents staying between two and five days. Additionally, it noted that out-of-state festival-goers tended to come from relatively high-income households with 32% of non-resident respondents reporting a household income of $300,000 or more.

Resident attendees also tended to come from relatively high-income households in Utah with the most common income category for Utah residents being $100,000 to $199,999 per year.