Sundance Institute brings $151 million in economic impact to Utah with 2017 Sundance Film Festival

The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced that its 2017 Sundance Film Festival, which took place in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah in January, generated a total economic impact of $151.5 million.

These numbers come from an independent economic and demographic study conducted by Y² Analytics, which used updated methodology and technology to give a more complete picture of the Festival’s impact on the state of Utah’s economy. They are in addition to the economic impact of Sundance Institute’s year round Utah-based programs, such as the Filmmaker Labs and Summer Film Series.

The economic and demographic study also determined that the 2017 Festival generated $14 million in state and local tax revenue; supported 2,778 jobs; and attracted more than 71,600 attendees from 46 states and 18 foreign countries. This year’s economic impact brought the cumulative total since 2013 to $465 million, with more than $41.6 million in state and local tax revenue generated and more than 8,400 jobs supported.
“It is apparent that the Sundance Film Festival continues to have an expanding impact on Utah’s vibrant and diverse economy,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “In addition to the obvious economic benefits, our ongoing collaboration with Sundance Institute highlights the exceptional cultural, recreational, tourism and business opportunities available here in Utah.”

“More than ever, the people of Utah and our business community appreciate the unique benefits provided by the Sundance Film Festival,” said Francis Gibson, Majority Whip of the Utah House of Representatives. “We look forward to our ongoing work together and the positive collaboration between Sundance Institute and the State.”

“This year’s numbers clearly display the great economic return that investments in the arts can produce in a community,” said Betsy Wallace, CFO and Managing Director of the Institute. “We’re proud to call the state of Utah home, and with the support of the State, local communities, great local vendors and indispensable volunteers, Sundance Institute is able to bring an arts event of this size and scope to Utah.”

Record-Setting Attendance and Economic Impact
This year’s Festival attracted an all-time high of at least 71,600 attendees. The Festival brought in 37,200 out-of-state visitors and 744 international visitors from at least 18 countries. Of the out-of-state attendees, 22 percent indicated this was their first visit to Utah and 86 percent indicated they would likely visit Utah again within the next year – exemplifying the added tourism benefits the Festival brings, which extend throughout the year.
Per-person spending for out-of-town visitors averaged $3,287 with an average stay of five days. Lodging continues to be the highest expense for out-of-state visitors, and generated a total of $53.9 million in attendee spending. The second largest expense was in food and beverage with $31.1 million total attendee spending generated. Efforts to mitigate traffic and congestion near theatres contributed to a $12.2 million dollar spend in transportation methods.

Building Audiences at Home and Abroad
The Institute helps shine an international spotlight on Utah by attracting top-tier industry attention for its programming and proactively securing diverse, global media interest. Between the announcement of the film program in late November 2016 through wrap-up articles in February 2017, the Festival generated more than 53,000 stories in print, online and on television, 11% higher than the previous year. Publicity value around the Festival has increased significantly over the last few years, totaling $90.9 million this year, a 20% increase over the Festival’s 5-year average. Over 950 press were accredited to attend and cover the Festival from 22 different countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dubai, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Venezuela.
The Institute’s social media and website continue to expand their reach, connecting with new audiences around the world. The Festival now has nearly 2.5 million fans and followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat and Google+. During the Festival there were over 42 million impressions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter alone. Additionally, from November 30, 2016 to February 28, 2017, the Institute’s website,, had more than 5.8 million page views and 1.1 million unique visitors from 187 countries. Top countries outside the United States included the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Spain.

Economic Report Methodology
Attendance estimate data was provided by Blyncsy, a Utah-based company which assigned anonymous ID numbers to each unique cell phone found at a Festival venue. From these attendance numbers, total visitor spending was calculated by combining the number of visitors with information from online and intercept surveys where attendees reported on how much they had spent during the Festival. From total visitor spending, total economic impact was derived by applying the latest (2015) RIMS II economic multipliers produced by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. These multipliers capture how much additional spending is induced by the Festival. The RIMS II model also estimates the effect of the Festival on earnings in the state and the number of jobs produced. Additionally, the Y² Analytics team conducted three surveys, using Systematic Random Sampling techniques, to determine spending among Festival attendees.