2019 and 2021 Economic Impact Estimates Illustrate Value of Arts & Cultural Institutions Muskegon, MI – The economic impact of arts and cultural institutions and festivals on the Muskegon County economy is substantial, according to estimates recently released by Visit Muskegon, the county’s convention and visitors bureau.

Arts and cultural institutions and festivals in Muskegon County contributed over $56.48 million in calendar year 2019 and $41.75 million in 2021, according to a survey conducted by the visitors bureau. Calendar year 2020 was omitted due to the ongoing worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

The estimates not only included lodging revenues and visitor spending, but also the budgets of the arts and cultural institutions within Muskegon County. These institutions employed 117 full-time and 799 part-time employees in 2019 and 102 full-time and 535 part-time employees in 2021.

“Arts and cultural institutions in Muskegon County are the fabric of our community,” said Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon. “They employ scores of full-time professionals and part-time employees to bring their programs, exhibitions, tours and concerts to local residents and our ever-increasing numbers of visitors.”

Festivals are another important economic driver in Muskegon County, with over $2.4 million in admission revenues and over 248,000 attendees in 2019, and over $1.2 million in admission revenues and 170,000 attendees in 2021. Some local festivals are not included in these estimates.

“As you can imagine, festivals were hit hard in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic,” Lukens continued. “Some – but not all – of our annual festivals took place in 2021, with the attendance numbers reflecting the lingering uncertainty of the pandemic.”

“Fortunately, the summer of 2022 is expected to be a banner year for festival attendance,” Lukens said.

More than 60,000 visitors to arts and cultural institutions and festivals spent the night in Muskegon in 2019, and 35,000 overnights in 2021 were attributed to arts and cultural institutions and festivals in Muskegon County.

Economic impact estimates were compiled from information from surveys, attendance estimates, and other business information collected from 10 arts and cultural institutions and 12 festivals in Muskegon County. Lodging and visitor spending numbers are estimated using occupancy and average daily rate reports, and US General Services Administration (GSA) per diem rates. The estimates are “conservative,” according to Lukens, and do not include every festival or arts/cultural institution in Muskegon County. 

“These numbers are the best estimate of local economic impact we can make given the information provided by Muskegon County’s arts and cultural institutions and festivals,” Lukens said. “We’d like to expand this exercise to include every institution and festival in the County for 2022.”

This study was initiated and supported by the Muskegon Arts & Culture Coalition (MACC). The coalition is comprised of local arts and culture leaders working together to promote and celebrate the county’s dynamic arts and culture community.  Collectively, the coalition employs hundreds of residents, generates millions of dollars of annual economic activity, and acts as a catalyst for attraction and retention.  MACC entities include Arts Council of White Lake Nuveen Center, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Frauenthal Center, Hackley Library, James Jackson Museum of African American History, Lakeshore Art Festival, Lakeshore Museum Center, Muskegon Area District Library, Muskegon Civic Theatre, Muskegon Community College, Muskegon Museum of Art, The Playhouse at White Lake, and West Michigan Symphony.

Founding member of MACC and Director of the West Michigan Symphony, Andy Buelow commented, “As government leaders work to position their cities and states for a post-pandemic recovery, new research shows why they should look to the arts as an essential tool in their economic recovery arsenal. Arts and culture have been key to the revitalization of our region for decades, and they will be pivotal in the post-COVID recovery economy. The Creative State Michigan Report by Creative Many found that the Arts accounted for $2.5 billion in state tourism revenues— more than professional sporting events, golf, boating and sailing, hunting and fishing, hiking and biking combined.” 

Kirk Hallman, another MACC founding member and Director of the Muskegon Museum of Art stated, “We felt this study was important, not only to demonstrate economic value of arts and culture throughout Muskegon County but also to show how our rich art and cultural history helps drive tourism, attracts talent, retains local residents and creates an overall well-rounded community for all to enjoy.”   

For more information about the Muskegon Arts & Culture Coalition click HERE. Please also visit our website and Facebook page. For a PDF version of this release click HERE

Michigan Arts & Culture Council
National Endowment for the Arts