Arts Festivals & their Economic Impact

Festivals are rooted in the social and cultural life of its host community and there are endless studies to prove that Arts festivals including Fringes enhance and benefit their environment.


Arts festivals are known to generate wealth and employment; this is illustrated by the amount of income generated through ticket sales, the festivals’ spend on venues, kit, wages, and infrastructure. There is also revenue build through the ticket buyers secondary spend on travel, accommodation and refreshment. Festival goers who attend free and ticketed events are also known to spend money in local retail outlets and other businesses in the town.


The economic impact of this spending generates significant income to the region. It can be significant enough to justify and enable more employment positions and opportunities in many companies. Studies show local businesses in a festival town believe the festival brings in new business to them and they see the event as good for the local community. Many also see them as making a valuable contribution to the development of tourism.


Arts festivals enhance local image and identity; attendees in many festival towns said they felt more positive about the place where the festival was held. This demonstrates that festivals can be an important factor in improving perceptions of places and people.


Arts festivals generate and sustain audiences to the town’s year-round venues. Research shows that Arts festivals create a very high level of satisfaction with the spaces it takes part in. Return visits are likely to happen to the venues and the public will have an increased interest in arts activities.


The extreme example is the Edinburgh Festivals, which in 2010 generated over a quarter of a billion pounds worth of additional tourism revenue for Scotland (£261m). The economic impact figure for Edinburgh is £245m. The Fringe alone contributed a staggering £142 million of this. The Festivals play a starring role in the profile of the city and its tourism economy, with 93% of visitors stating that the Festivals are part of what makes Edinburgh special as a city, 82% agreeing that the Festivals make them more likely to revisit Edinburgh in the future and 82% stating that the Festivals were their sole or an important reason for coming to Scotland. Visitors to Edinburgh spent on average £35 each for every £1 in public subsidy


Any Fringe Festival will create increased footfall to a town centre, it will increase the cultural activity and tourism. The Fringe will bring business to the transport and accommodation industries as well as enhance secondary spend to the service and retail industries. It will make the residents and the population of the region feel better about the town/city as well as promote and market it nationally and internationally.


If a Fringe were to generate 1% of the economic value that the Edinburgh Fringe does it would bring in over a million pounds to the local economy.


Written by Holly Lombardo 2013

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