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Friday, March 5, 2010

Random musings on festivals in Memphis

Just read a story in my paper (The Memphis Daily News) discussing the economic impact of the Indie Memphis film festival.

I don't know if this is good to admit as I write about the positives of this film festival. But I've never attended Indie Memphis. I don't really consider myself a film buff. Actually, I have not been to a movie in a theater in two years (the last was "Juno").

Having a toddler son tends to keep me from attending events such as this. I end up being very selective with what local arts events I support because of my time.

But I don't need to attend the festival, or read a story telling me that it attracted 7,000 attendees last year to know it's a good thing for Memphis. Utah's Sundance draws six times the amount of visitors as does Indie Memphis. But one of the beauties of the Memphis arts scene is the variety.

You want a music festival? We have several, from the large Beale Street Music Festival, to the smaller benefit concerts such as the two-day Rock for Love held in August. We have great visual arts shows, pottery events, theaters; Memphis is a great arts city.

Back to the economic impact from these festivals. The Daily News story cites a study by Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research that showed "the 2008 Sundance Film Festival injected $92 million into the local economy. That figure was based on attendance of more than 40,000 people.

"The festival created nearly 2,000 jobs and netted nearly $4 million in state tax revenues. For the year ending February 2009, Sundance generated media attention valued at more than $8 million."

Indie Memphis is no Sundance, but garnering just a fraction of that economic impact isn't a bad thing. There are so many jobs that exist in Memphis, and many cities for that matter, that are thanks to the dollars generated from visitors and locals alike enjoying events such as music and film festivals.

That brings me to my next thought. Memphis long has been regarded as a festival town, largely centered on Memphis in May. Many people, including myself, were not impressed when the lineup for the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival was announced Thursday. Bonnaroo it is not.

But the attendance numbers usually don't argue with the festival's success. Even in down years, it usually draws 80,000 or so attendees over the three days. I haven't decided if the acts I do enjoy who have been announced for the festival are worth purchasing a ticket to see. But I know many Memphians and visitors enjoy those bands. And I'm very happy we have events such as Beale Street Music Fest to enjoy.

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