Music and Artistic Director Jeff Faragher is pictured with the Symphony of the Kootenays.

Music and Artistic Director Jeff Faragher is pictured with the Symphony of the Kootenays.

Symphony survey shows performing arts support businesses

The survey showed that combined per concert spending is over $20,000 by both audience members and musicians.

  • May. 11, 2015 1:00 p.m.

For the Townsman

At their February 7, 2015, concert, the Symphony of the Kootenays conducted a survey of both audience members and orchestra musicians as to their spending habits associated with symphony concert events. The results may surprise a lot of people.

Symphony of the Kootenays concerts generate significant economic benefits to the Cranbrook economy.  The survey showed that combined per concert spending is over $20,000 by both audience members and musicians. The 95% range of error on this estimate is between $18,200 and $29,900.

Spread over a four-concert Symphony season, spending associated with Symphony of the Kootenays concerts is estimated at over $90,000 (range: $72,936 to $119,720). The money is spent primarily on dining, drinks, retail shopping and accommodations.

“These survey results show that the economic benefit of performing arts events, in this case a professional symphony orchestra that regularly performs here in Cranbrook, goes well beyond the price of admission,” says Symphony of the Kootenays President, Ian Adams.

Surveys were made available to each of the 512 people attending the concert at Key City Theatre in Cranbrook, BC. The concert, entitled A Night at the Movies, featured the music of film composer John Williams from blockbuster movies including Jaws, E.T. The Extra-terrestrial and the original Star Wars series. A total of 51 surveys were returned from the audience, representing 133 people (26%) attending the concert. That the results were very positive perhaps should not have been a surprise – after all, Hollywood loves a good ending.

A similar survey was provided to musicians. “Our musicians are really making an impact. For many of them, Symphony of the Kootenays concert weekends are an opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues and play some great music,” says Adams. “This is a unique orchestra. We have no full time musicians and most do not reside in Cranbrook. Many stay in hotels, they are dining out and shopping during their weekend stay in Cranbrook.”

Total per concert spending is almost evenly split between the audience and its musicians.Over half of the audience survey returns (30 of the 51 responses) indicated that they spend an average of $39.20 per person on other hospitality services (dining, drinks, etc.) before or after each concert. Musicians spend an average of $121 per person during their stay in Cranbrook. Estimates in the report are supported by statistical ranges that are accurate 19 times out 20. The report is attached to this press release.

Both audience members (17.6%) and, especially, out-of-town musicians (78.1%) indicated that they shop while in Cranbrook for Symphony concert events, spending an average of $29 and $74 per person, respectively. Most audience members who live more than an hour’s drive from Cranbrook typically overnight here following the concerts. While many musicians are placed with billets and some audience members stay with friends, a large proportion rent hotel rooms.

These results clearly show that Symphony of the Kootenays does more than enrich the lives of thousands of Kootenay area residents through varied and wonderful music. Our survey demonstrates that symphony concerts also provide a significant economic benefit to Cranbrook’s hospitality sector as well as retail and other businesses.

“This spending shows that many people attending Symphony of the Kootenays concerts like to make an evening or weekend of the event. This benefits many businesses in town,” notes Adams. “Even conservative estimates indicate that we’re leveraging well over 50 per cent of our annual budget in spin-off sales here in Cranbrook. We think that speaks volumes for the value of arts and culture to this town.”

About the Symphony of the Kootenays:

Cranbrook is among the smallest municipalities in Canada to support a professional symphony orchestra.

Symphony of the Kootenays (SOTK) was formed in 1975 as the Kootenay Chamber Orchestra. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary season in 2015-16. That is a major achievement.

Symphony of the Kootenays has among the lowest public funding percentages in the country, averaging around one third of its revenue from public sources from grants.

Just over 50 per cent of the Symphony’s musicians live in the Kootenays, while the remainder travel from southern Alberta, primarily Calgary and Lethbridge. The first time the symphony rehearses a program as an orchestra is the day before the performance. Musicians are in Cranbrook from Friday through Sunday and spend money on food, entertainment, lodging and retail shopping.

The Symphony of the Kootenays next performance will take place July 4, at the Kimberley Alpine Resort. Tickets for “Symphony on the Mountain,” are available at Centre 64, in Kimberley, Lotus Books, in Cranbrook or online at