50,000-Plus Attendees at Arts Center Events Boost Local Economy

photo of Yo-Yo Ma

­The Center for the Arts at Eastern Kentucky University has played host during its inaugural season to more than 50,500 guests from more than 30 states and abroad.

Even when the 25,000-plus Madison County patrons are excepted, all the extra tourists constitute a significant financial gain for Richmond and Madison County, particularly for local motels, restaurants and gas stations.

During the 2011-12 season, which concludes in June, Center guests have come from all states contiguous to Kentucky, and from as far away as California, Washington and Oregon.

“Based on this information, we know the EKU Center for the Arts is enhancing the economic development and quality of life for Madison County and its citizens,” said Dr. Bob Rogow, dean of the university’s College of Business & Technology and chair of the Arts Center Board. “It is an excellent example of regional stewardship by Eastern Kentucky University. Further, the Center is having a very positive impact on eastern Kentucky’s reputation and visibility throughout the region, Commonwealth and beyond. We look forward to another successful year during the Center’s second season of performances.”

Leading in out-of-state ticket sales were Ohio, 237; Tennessee, 79; Virginia, 68; and Indiana, 65.

In addition, an estimated 18,000-20,000 visited the Vietnam Wall traveling exhibit when it came to the Center in April.

“We are very pleased with the impact the Center has had on tourism,” said Lori Murphy-Tatum, tourism director for the City of Richmond. “We have seen increased transient tax revenue directly related to performances at the Center. Any chance we have to bring in out-of-town visitors to Richmond is an economic win. Every tourism dollar turns around about seven times before it leaves here, so those ticket sales are not just affecting the Center.

“The Center also brings a cultural tourism aspect to Richmond that we were missing,” she added. “It is wonderful to have quality New York-style entertainment five minutes from our hotels.”

A consultant on the business plan developed for the Center in 2009, Webb Management Services Inc., cited an average 1.3448 multiplier for output dollars expended for food services, retail trade, transportation, overnight lodging and other expenditures. A second multiplier, an average of 0.3788 for earnings, provides the average increase in earnings made by local workers.

Based on the most recent financial data prepared by the University’s Division of Financial Affairs, new sales and new earnings increased by approximately $3.2 million and $900,000, respectively, as a result of the Center’s operations. According to the Webb report, that would lead to approximately 26 new jobs in the region.

“These amounts are further increased by the direct impact of audience attendees, Madison County residents and patrons from other locations, and their expenditures in Madison County,” Rogow said.

Most of the performers in the Center’s inaugural season played to packed houses. The stylistically diverse lineup featured Wynonna Judd, B.B. King, Chris Botti, the Munich Symphony, Garrison Keillor, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Peter Frampton, Mannheim Steamroller, Wynton Marsalis and Jerry Seinfeld, along with productions of “Spamalot” and “Beauty and the Beast,” among others.

The complete 2012-13 season, which will include a performance by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will be announced this summer.

For more information about the EKU Center for the Arts, visit ekucenter.com.

Published on May 23, 2012