Festival adds millions to Shuswap economy

Hugo Rampen, Roots and Blues Festival - Observer file photo
Hugo Rampen, Roots and Blues Festival
— image credit: Observer file photo

It’s a three-day music-lovers festival that packs a huge economic wallop.

Preliminary findings of an economic development study have determined that the 2013 Roots and Blues Festival generated $4,089,299 in direct new spending in the region as a result of incremental spending by tourists attending the event and $4,935,022 combined spending by attendees both local and non-local.

“Incremental spending is money that is spent at or because of the event that would not otherwise have been spent in the community,” explained artistic director Hugo Rampen in his report to the board of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society.

Rampen was providing the preliminary results of an economic development study that is a collaboration between Shuswap Tourism, the Roots and Blues Festival and the tourism management department of Thompson Rivers University.

The study was based on an extensive research involving the collection of more than 1,700 on-site questionnaires and subsequent online survey.

Rampen says the total does not include spending by locals, support by sponsors or spending by the festival itself, nor does it include any form of economic multiplier.

On average, an event tourist to Roots and Blues spends $498 on-site and an additional $529 off-site during their festival weekend – money that is spent in a number of areas including transportation, accommodation, food and beverage and shopping or retail.

“It is my hope that this study can be used as a tool for future fundraising, as well as a document that will silence various members of the community that have been nurturing a myth that the Roots and Blues does nothing for the community,” Rampen said, noting the festival provides an annual scholarship for high school graduates and donates thousands of dollars in tickets for various community fundraisers.

During his tenure with the festival, 40 participants have been trained through a job- creation program, along with five international interns, and four B.C. students.

As well, Rampen notes the festival has initiated a mini economic development project through Routes and Blues, an outreach program that partners with Seymour Arm, Squilax, Blind Bay, Malakwa, Notch Hill, Mara, Celista and the Shuswap Trail Alliance, and highlights local talent through the music crawl and festival busking.

“It is no secret that the economy has impacted the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival as well as its immediate community and we probably aren’t out of danger yet,” he says. “Community support for the event is integral to the survival of the festival and in turn, as indicated in the recent economic development study, the survival of the festival is integral to the economy of the city.”

The full report is expected to be released later this month.



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