Study backs SA claim as the Festival State

Flamenco Hoy at the 2013 Adelaide Festival. Photo: Tony Lewis

South Australians see real value in the Adelaide Festival – even if they don’t attend it.

A detailed and extensive cultural value study conducted on the 2013 Adelaide Festival by an international research team led by Flinders University has found that South Australians who aren’t festival-goers still value it at $16.4 million.

The study, the first of its kind in Australia, also found that people who do attend valued the Festival at over $68 million – bringing the total cultural value of the major event in the state’s arts calendar to $84,924,664.

The figures, to be released today [Tuesday, 18 June] at a symposium The Real Worth of the Arts in Adelaide at the Adelaide Festival Centre, are independent of the economic benefits.

Dr Steve Brown, Head of Tourism at Flinders and lead researcher, said the study has proven, using a scientifically rigorous methodology, that the real worth of the Adelaide Festival goes beyond economics.

“We now have clear evidence that there is a significant cultural value of the Adelaide Festival among all South Australians,” Dr Brown said.

“In some ways, it is no surprise that people who do attend the Festival value it so highly – they invest time and money to be part of the Festival experience,” he said.

“However, what is particularly interesting is just how highly those people who don’t attend still value the Festival. It demonstrates how the whole population feels about the Festival and it backs up South Australia’s claim to be the festival state.”

The Cultural Value Research Project is based on Contingent Valuation Methodology (CVM), a theory developed in 1947 and applied since the early 1960s to evaluate ‘non-market’ resources.

CVM was previously used in 1986 to evaluate the Grand Prix in South Australia; this is its first application in this form in the field of arts and culture in Australia.

A team of researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with Festival audience members (‘users’) and non-festival-goers (‘non-users’), who were asked a range of questions related to the value that the Festival had for them.

“We asked the respondents to put a dollar figure on the value, to them, in having the opportunity to visit the festival, in providing culture and entertainment to younger generations and to the effect that the festival has on the image and developmental direction of Adelaide,” Dr Brown said.

The project will continue with surveying to be conducted at a range of festivals, events and cultural organisations.

“Putting a dollar value on arts and cultural activities in the state to the people of South Australia enables us, with the economic data, to determine the real worth of the arts in Adelaide”.

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