SNHU students look at a theater’s economic impact
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
A performance venue can certainly have an economic impact, and a class at Southern New Hampshire University set out to get some numbers regarding that for a historic New Hampshire presenting and producing house.
What they came up with in their report on the Palace Theatre in Manchester is an estimate of about $5.3 million in overall impact from the Palace’s 2009 season.
Of course, the survey didn’t use a “true random sample,” said SNHU Professor Doug Blais, chair of the school’s Sport Management Department.
Students in the undergraduate “Sport Finance and Entertainment” class used a “convenience sample,” he said. Their numbers did track closely to a similar 2005 Palace study by the school, he said.
Peter Ramsey, president and CEO of the Palace, commented in a written statement, “There is nothing more important for the Palace Board of Trustees and the Palace Theatre than impacting the city of Manchester in such a positive way. We are extremely proud to be such a significant part of the community and at the same time fulfilling our mission.”
The $5.3 million measure includes direct spending — estimated at about $3.3 million for things like Palace tickets, food and beverages on-site, and related spending such as parking or meals off-site. That direct spending creates a “ripple effect,” as restaurants have to restock, etc., Blais said.
Students used a modeling program called IMPLANPro, which uses government figures to estimate that indirect impact, Blais said.
The report also found estimated economic impact helped support about 139 full-time equivalent jobs.
“I think that having an economic impact analysis is valuable. I think it helps make the point that arts and cultural [organizations],” employ people, draw visitors and purchase goods and services,” said Jay Minkarah, economic development director for Manchester. “I think that has a value because there can be a tendency to see [cultural nonprofits] only as takers,” he said.
The city recently received a grant for an “Arts & Cultural Destination Initiative” project through which the economic development department is hoping to generate some solid ideas on how to “position” the city as the “premiere arts and cultural destination north of Boston,” Minkarah said.
Finding a baseline of the impact of cultural institutions that draw people from more than an hour’s drive away is part of the project, but not its main goal, Minkarah said.
“I really want to come up with some actual things we can do,” Minkarah said. Those may end up being marketing or cross-promotional activities, or fostering more interaction between leaders of cultural organizations, for example, he said.
Minkarah thinks there’s a tendency for people to disassociate places like the Currier Museum of Art and New Hampshire Institute of Art with Manchester. That’s one issue he hopes will be addressed through this initiative.
No such formal study on the economic impact of the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord has been done, said Nicolette Clarke, executive director. They do, however, participate in economic impact data reporting by the New England Foundation for the Arts (www.nefa.org), which mostly provides state-by-state data, Clarke said.
The Monadnock Region recently pulled together an economic impact study, Clarke said. Arts Alive! and Americans for the Arts put together “Arts & Economic Prosperity III,” which found “the nonprofit arts and culture are a $16.6 million industry” in that area, creating what’s equal to 477 full-time jobs, according to www.monadnockartsalive.org.
Portsmouth participated in an Americans for the Arts “Arts & Economic Prosperity III” study in 2006, according to www.art-speak.org.
The Nashua city economic development department reported that it is in the process of creating a report from a consumer survey about downtown shopping preferences and habits.