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Analysis estimates economic impact of inaugural ArtPrize in Grand Rapids
The inaugural ArtPrize drew as many as 200,000 visitors to Grand Rapids last September, generating an estimated economic impact of $5 million to $7.6 million across Kent County, according to a new analysis by Grand Valley State University economics students.
Most of the visitors to the public art competition - between 111,000 and 148,000 - came from within a 30-mile radius of Grand Rapids.
Some 31,500 to 42,000 people traveled between 30 and 160 miles to Grand Rapids to attend ArtPrize, and an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 traveled more than 160 miles and likely stayed at least one night, according to the GVSU analysis released this morning.
Given the improved economy this year, the popularity of the inaugural event and the attention it received nationally - especially in the art community - GVSU associate economics professor Paul Isely expects a much larger economic impact from the 2010 ArtPrize.
"It's the second year. People know what it is about, so I would expect a strong increase," Isely said.
This year's ArtPrize runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 10.
The GVSU analysis is the first to offer data on the potential economic impact of ArtPrize, though Isely sees the peripheral effects as perhaps far more important than the immediate economic benefits.
ArtPrize began to rebrand Grand Rapids and differentiate it from Detroit for people around the nation who have a singular view of Michigan, Isely said. Creating that hipper image of Grand Rapids can have long-term economic benefits, he said.
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"It brings in the idea, ‘Hey, these people are cutting-edge, they are entrepreneurial, and they think about things in a bigger way,'" Isely said. "It brands the town, and it brands the town as a creative town. And that's a big deal."
The estimates in the GVSU analysis are "very conservative," Isely said, and based on people staying only one night. Economics students did not take into account the spending by people who live within 30 miles of downtown, since their spending during the nearly three-week event would have been local anyway.
ArtPrize generated direct spending of between $2.8 million and $3.8 million by visitors traveling more than 30 miles.
* Of that spending, $787,500 to $1.1 million was spent on food services, $212,500 to $283,333 was spent on lodging - assuming triple occupancy - and $1.8 million to $2.3 million was spent on entertainment, gasoline, retail items and other items.
* The direct spending supported between 206 and 274 full-time jobs in Kent County during September and October of 2009.
* ArtPrize last year featured more than 1,700 artists exhibiting at 168 venues around the city, mostly in downtown.
This story was featured in Influence West Michigan, a free weekly e-pub covering innovation, talent and sustainability. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.