Park City Main Street at night - UOT

Measuring the Impact of the Sundance Film Festival

January 25, 2016 | Economic Impact, Survey Research

By: Anna Bergevin

This week in Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is well underway. With an estimated attendance of more than 45,000 people the festival has a significant economic impact on the state. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute contracts with the Sundance Film Festival each year to conduct a study of this economic impact.

Last year’s festival was estimated to generate nearly $62.2 million in spending. While approximately a third of festival attendees are locals, the vast majority of spending ($57.2 million) comes from out of state visitors. This spending by nonresidents generated roughly $63.2 million in gross state product (GSP), provided significant earnings to local workers, supported more than a thousand jobs, and contributed substantial tax revenue to state and local governments. Details of the 2015 economic impacts are outlined in the table below.

2015 Sundance Film Festival: Economic Impacts of $57.2 Million in Nonresident Spending

Measuring the economic impact of the sundance film festival
Source: Bureau of Economic & Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Utah, Economic Impacts of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

In order to obtain accurate estimates of spending and economic impact the survey research team completes a substantial number of face-to-face interviews during the festival. Trained interviewers from the Policy Institute are conducting more than 800 interviews over the 11 day festival in four geographic areas: Park City, Sundance Resort, Salt Lake City, and Ogden. Interviewers approach attendees at film venues, at transit hubs, and along Park City’s Historic Main Street to gather information regarding their visit to the festival. Questions are designed to gather information about past festival attendance, plans during the festival, and spending in a variety of categories. The survey also gathers information on a limited set of demographic factors.

These 800 surveys will comprise the dataset that economists at the Gardner Policy Institute will combine with economic impact models to determine the impact of this year’s festival. To view the previous report on the economic impact of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, please click here.

Anna Bergevin is a research analyst at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.