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Dec. 2, 2010
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  Economic Review  
Jeff Edwards President's Message
More Great News About Utah – This Time in the Wall Street Journal

Utah has been the recipient of some excellent national recognition in recent months. Last week the Wall Street Journal ran an excellent story that features some of the key factors pulling Utah through the recession and toward a strong recovery. The national rankings and favorable news articles about the state are a testament to the fine team work taking place within our public and private sectors.

Also, please mark your calendars for our Annual EDCUtah Holiday Open House, which will be held on December 15. I look forward to celebrating our successes of the past year and the holiday season with you.

Today's Economic Review also includes links to many of the ED-related news stories from the past week. As always, if you have comments, suggestions or topics you'd like to see in the Economic Review, please contact us by clicking the "Comments" link on the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Jeff Edwards

Jeff Edwards
President and CEO

 
Feature Story
Utah's "Creative Economy" Adds Jobs, Entertainment and Sophistication

When, Fred C. Adams, Utah's "Mr. Shakespeare," visited Salt Lake City in early November he was on a mission to raise money for a new, $32 million theater for the world renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City.

"We hope he found favor among Utah's philanthropists, corporate citizens, foundations and arts organizations. The Utah Shakespeare Festival is a significant event that deserves the support of our citizens," says EDCUtah President and CEO Jeff Edwards. "We recognize that cultural attractions and arts-related events add to our economic vitality. They create jobs, enhance the quality of life, and add sophistication to communities and the state."

According to the latest data provided to the Utah Division of Arts & Museums by the Western States Arts Federation, Utah's "Creative Vitality Index" or CVI has dropped slightly for 2009, perhaps due to the recession. The CVI measures annual changes in the economic health of an area by integrating economic data streams from both the for-profit and nonprofit arts related sectors. The Division is just now preparing to release its CVI data for 2009, which shows some 41,149 Utahns were employed in arts related occupations. The 2009 employment shows a slight increase in arts related employment over 2007 figures. Naturally, the greatest concentration of arts related occupations in Utah are in the Salt Lake City, Provo-Orem, and Ogden-Clearfield metro areas, but arts related events in other parts of the state have proven they are also vital to the local and state economies.

"The arts in Utah are foundational to our quality of life," says Margaret Hunt, director of the Utah Division of Arts & Museums. In fact, Utah was one of the first states in the nation to establish a state arts agency. Furthermore, the establishment of the Office of Museum Services is unique to Utah.

"Support for the arts is fundamental to our core values," Hunt adds. "We have approximately 257 non-profit arts organizations in the state and the same number of museums."

One of Utah's premier events, which has provided the Beehive State with an increased level of sophistication, is the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The 2010 Sundance Film Festival generated an overall economic impact of $62.7 million for the state of Utah, supported over 1,500 jobs, generated over $18 million in media exposure and provided millions in tax revenue, according to the annual economic and demographic study conducted by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the David Eccles School of Business (BEBR).

Since 1994, the Sundance Institute has brought in excess of $500 million in economic activity to the Beehive State via the annual Sundance Film Festival.

Another premier event, which will celebrate its golden anniversary in 2011, is the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. It has put Utah on the map of acclaimed Shakespearean festivals, notably garnering a prestigious Tony Award in 2000 for Best Regional Theater. Regarding its contribution to the economy, Adams says the festival has a direct economic impact of approximately $32 million annually, with another $64 million in indirect impact.

"But we can triple that when the new theatre is up and running," he says. The Festival currently plays to approximately 150,000 people annually—most of them from out-of-state—but Adams is confident the new theatre "will surpass any of the existing Shakespearean theatres of the world."

Festival patrons spend three to six days in the area during the festival's July-August season. Imagine the economic impact of 450,000 people converging on the Cedar City area (and the state) every year for three to six days, during an expanded festival season that could run from May through February!

What's more, Adams says the new theatre, with its retractable roof, will be comparable to the Dorothy Chandler and Vivian Beaumont theatres, which are two of the greatest theatres in the world. "This theatre will be world-recognized," he adds.

The time has come to replace the existing, 40-year-old theater, which is not compliant with the American Disabilities Act, "has embarrassing restroom accommodations," and has outlived its design, says Adams. He has pledges of $17.5 million for the new structure, but since the festival has no corporate or foundational sponsors, raising money is exhausting work. Nonetheless, he is confident the Utah Shakespeare Festival could keep its theatre full for two thirds of the year, simply by drawing on the 15 million snowbirds that travel north and south on Interstate 15 at least twice each year.

Other arts-related events and attractions have an untold economic impact, but certainly add to the state's vitality. Salt Lake City is said to be one of only 25 metropolitan areas in the country to support a professional symphony, opera and ballet. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is world renowned. It's weekly broadcast performances and rehearsals attract an untold number of visitors to downtown Salt Lake City. Many of them are likely part of the five million annual visitors to Temple Square.

In Logan, the Utah Festival Opera is filling hotel rooms and creating jobs for Cache Valley. In fact, Hunt says it is nearly impossible to find a hotel vacancy in Logan during the festival season. The Utah Festival Opera got its start in 1988, when Dr. Michael Ballam, a music professor at Utah State University and accomplished operatic singer, began a campaign to save and preserve the historic Capitol Theatre in Logan by establishing an annual opera festival there. After raising $6.5 million, the Capitol Theatre's intricate architecture was restored and its history preserved. Thanks to Ballam's vision and Cache Valley's support of the arts, the theatre was preserved and Logan has since established itself as a festival city, attracting patrons from across the world, and sustaining jobs.

Meanwhile, Tuacahn Amphitheater and Center for the Arts, which is adjacent to Snow Canyon State Park near St. George, and other arts-related attractions across the state are adding to Utah's creative vitality index as well, and thus helping to build our community and state economies. Such events serve as centerpieces for cultural renewal, make our communities more attractive to highly desirable, knowledge-based employees, and add to a vibrant quality of life.

"All other factors being equal, quality of life can be the game changer in our economic development efforts," says EDCUtah President and CEO Jeff Edwards.

Calendar

Dec. 15
EDCUtah Holiday Open House (Salt Lake City)

Jan. 12, 2011
"What's Up Down South" Washington County Economic Summit (St. George)

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The EDCUtah Economic Review is a weekly publication of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. It is distributed to EDCUtah partners and selected other government and civic organizations interested in Utah's economic development.

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