The Sundance Film Festival is clearly leaving the recession behind, but it hasn't fully recovered from the steep economic downturn that kept some moviegoers from attending the independent film celebration centered in Park City.
The 2012 festival produced an economic boost for Utah that totaled $80.3 million, not including nearly $7 million in state and local taxes, through a mix of spending by nearly 47,000 people and the creation of 1,731 temporary jobs, according to a study conducted for the Sundance Institute by the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
On top of that, the festival also generated more than $69 million in worldwide media exposure, Jill Miller, the institute's managing director, said, citing the study.
The impact on the state's economy was 13 percent more than last year's haul of $70.8 million. Fewer people attended the 2011 event, and those who came shelled out fewer dollars on lodging, food, car rentals and retail purchases. Visitor spending this year was 14.5 percent higher, according to the study. Total spending per person averaged $1,437 per person; nonresidents spent $2,032 per person.
"Spending is clearly back," Miller said Tuesday.
Still, the impact isn't what it was before the recession set in. This year marked the second annual improvement over 2010, when the measured economic benefit fell to $62.7 million from $92 million in the previous year. It was, however, the second-highest figure in six years.
This year attendance was up 2 percent from 2011, helped by the addition of two more venues that provided more seating capacity, Miller said. More than 31,000 participants traveled from outside Utah, including 5,800 visitors from foreign countries.
"The 2012 Sundance Film Festival was a resounding success from a number of perspectives," Miller said.
The addition of $80 million to the state's gross state product of roughly $115 billion may seem small, but the festival's contribution pays outsized dividends. Since 2001, the festival has generated more than $500 million in economic activity for Utah. The state's largest international event bolsters tourism: More than 44 percent of attendees said they intend to visit Utah again in the next year.
What's more, this year's festival generated more than 25,000 print and online articles. It also generated 2,400 television stories, according to the U. of U.'s study.
"We are proud to be the official [festival] host state and appreciate both the economic value it brings to Utah, as well as the invaluable cultural and artistic benefit to residents and visitors alike," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement.
During the festival, Zions Bank and the Governor's Office of Economic Development held a networking event that targeted CEOs and other executives of several companies who came to Utah for the event.
Oracle, Adobe, Expedia, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Hilton Hotels were among companies represented at the festival.
Sundance Film Festival visits
The festival attracted people from 21 countries, several states and Utah, including:
Nonresidents (U.S. and foreign) • 31,121
Utah residents •15,610
Foreign visitors: • 5,795
Source • Sundance Institute
Total spending by Sundance Film Festival participants, 2012 vs. 2011
Lodging • $30.1 million; $25.8 million
Food and beverages • $17.8 million; $16.5 million
Car rentals • $3 million; $2.5 million
Other transportation • $913,567; $1.3 million
Recreation • $5 million: $5.8 million
Other retail purchases • $10.3 million; $6.7 million
Total • $67.1 million; $58.6 million
Figures do not add up to totals due to rounding.
Source • Sundance Institute