The Sundance Film Festival has grown at a record pace over the past three years, with year-on-year increases in attendance, wages, jobs created, tax revenue and economic impact for Utah. This years festival generated more than $191 million in economic activity, more than half of which was in wages for Utah workers.
The festival also saw record attendance levels, with more than 124,000 people visiting the 11-day event in January – up a whopping 73% from the year before and nearly triple the attendance from 2016.
According to a new report from the University of Utah (read it here), the economic impact of this years festival was up more than 26% from the $151.5 million produced in 2017, which was more than double the $72.5 million produced in 2016.
“Spending during the Sundance Film Festival generates many positive economic benefits,” the report states. “Tourism-related industries are beneficiaries of spending that would not otherwise be part of the states economy, and that spending entering the state induces additional spending as companies hire additional labor, increase their capacity, and purchase the goods that are necessary to accommodate the additional visitors.”
This year, the festival created 3,323 jobs for Utah residents – nearly 20% more than last year and more than double the number of jobs in 2016. This year, the festival in Park City produced $100 million in wages, compared to $79 million last year and $43 million the year before.
The report also found that the festival is producing more state and local tax revenue than ever before: $19.2 million this year, compared to $14 million last year and $7.9 million in 2016.
Out-of-state spending topped $156 million this year, though only 36% of those who attended came from outside Utah. Most of that – $62 million – was spent on lodging; $30 million on meals; nearly $38 million on recreation and entertainment, and over $17 million on car rentals and other transportation. The average out-of-state visitor spent about $3,500 during their stay. The average Utahan spent only $334.
Nearly three in four had attended at least one Sundance fest before, and nine out of 10 said theyd definitely or probably return again.
The report also found that the festival draws an older, smarter and upscale crowd, most of whom were women. Nearly half of those who attended had bachelors degrees, 23% had masters degrees, and nearly 9% had doctorate or other post-graduate degrees, while fewer than 3% only had high school degrees or less. Fifty-nine percent of attendees were women. Those ages 26-64 made up over 78% of the attendees, while and only one-tenth of 1% were under 18.
Over half of the attendees made $50,000-$200,000 a year, with only 12% making less than $35,000. Over 15% of all attendees – and more than 28% of the out-of-staters – had incomes of over $300,000. Less than 12% of the attendees were employed in the entertainment industry, though more than 27% of the out-of-state visitors were employed in the industry.
Californians made up the lions share of the out-of-staters, accounting for nearly 37% of the non-Utahans. Canadians accounted for over 37% of the foreign visitors, followed by the U.K. (12%) and Australia (10%).