Sundance Institute Economy Brings $70.8 Million to Utah with 2011 Sundance Film Festival; Highlights

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Park City, UT – The 2011 Sundance Film Festival generated an overall economic impact of $70.8 million for the State of Utah, supported over 1600 jobs, generated over $27 million in media exposure and provided nearly $6 million in tax revenue, according to the annual economic and demographic study conducted by the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the David Eccles School of Business (BEBR). The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced the findings today, which were generated using an economic impact model known as RIMS II, developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Since 2001, the Sundance Institute Economy has brought in excess of one-half a billion dollars in economic activity to the state of Utah through its annual Sundance Film Festival. The Festival is the state’s largest annual international event which bolsters tourism and attracts world-wide media attention. The 2011 figures show gains over the 2010 figures in all categories, gains which the BEBR attributes to a correction in the lodging sector as well as a slight increase in the nation’s economic spending overall. The complete Economic Report can be found at: :

“The impact of the Sundance Institute’s economy on the State of Utah is substantial,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “The Sundance Film Festival places Utah on the world’s center-stage for ten days and showcases all that our state offers.  Business executives and tourists from the world over attend the Festival and experience our beautiful, vibrant, and welcoming state first-hand. We are proud to be the host state for this preeminent cultural event and proudly tout the positive economic impact Sundance delivers.” 

Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam said, “There has been much discussion of late regarding arts funding – whether to sustain, increase or cut arts programs around the country. The Sundance Economy illustrates that art can serve as a significant driver for economic growth, business development, tourism, and educational outreach. More importantly, the return on investment is both substantial and exponential. We want to once again thank the thousands of volunteers, staff and attendees for making this year’s Festival such a resounding success.”

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival sponsors included: Presenting Sponsors—Entertainment Weekly, HP, Acura, Sundance Channel and Chase SapphireSM; Leadership Sponsors—Bing™, Canon, DIRECTV, Honda, Southwest Airlines and YouTube™; Sustaining Sponsors—FilterForGood®, a partnership between Brita® and Nalgene®, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, L’Oréal Paris, Stella Artois®, Timberland, and Trident Vitality™.

Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as the Festival Host State.  The support of these organizations helped defray costs associated with the 10-day Festival and the nonprofit Sundance Institute’s year-round programs for independent film and theatre artists. In return, sponsorship of the preeminent Festival provides these organizations with global exposure, a platform for brand impressions and unique access to Festival attendees.

Notable events at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival included the annual Salt Lake Gala, well attended by Governor Herbert, legislators, and community leaders.  In the Governor’s welcoming remarks, he commented on the value of hosting the Festival, its economic impact on Utah and the unique cultural experiences offered to Utah residents. Over 4200 local high school students participated in the Institutes’ Festival High School Screenings Program, where filmmakers presented world premieres and engaged in discussions with students about an array of cultural, political, and social issues. The Festival also welcomed Hill Air Force Base for a special Festival screening at Ogden’s Egyptian Theatre. This year the Salt Lake Art Center became the official venue for the Festival’s New Frontier program, which was free and open to the public.  And, upon the conclusion of the Festival, many Utahans attended Best of Fest, free public screenings of the Festival’s award winning films. 

Business Exposure for the State of Utah
During the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Zions Bank and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development co-hosted the fourth-annual Sundance Institute Business Connection, a business networking event targeting CEOs, site selectors, and other top-level executives in the fields of technology, finance, sports, and more who visit Utah specifically to attend the Sundance Film Festival.  The event was attended by such companies as Oracle, Disney Interactive, Honda, Time Warner, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs.

“Every year at the Festival we showcase Utah and its favorable business environment to a group of corporate site selectors, who help companies relocate or expand their operations,” said Spencer P. Eccles, Executive Director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development.  “The Sundance Festival provides a unique venue where we can bring international business leaders and site selectors together at the annual Sundance Business Connection event.  It gives us a place where these national leaders can talk with Utah business leaders and learn first hand why Utah is the nation’s best state to do business,” Eccles added.

Building Audiences at Home and Abroad

Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival generated 39, 224 print and online articles with an estimated publicity value of $27,094,320.75 from the announcement of the films in December through February 2011. Over 950 registered press  from 24 countries attended the Festival, including Croatia, Serbia, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and China.

From January 15- February 15, 2011, the Sundance Film Festival generated 1,691 broadcast stories, with an approximate total of 287,041,253 audience impressions resulting in more than $12,994,347 in publicity values.

The Institute’s website,, had 961,730 unique visitors coming from 210 countries.  Top countries included, the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, and France. In addition, the  Sundance Film Festival has over 236,000 Facebook Fans and over 60,000 Twitter Followers.  During the 10 days of the Festival, Films with Facebook Pages posted 1,100 updates that resulted in 11,000 likes, 1,900 comments and 1,400 status updates from fans. Twitter during the 10 days of the Festival had 108,555 Sundance tweets by 44,778 unique users with a social impact of 113,809,500 views. 

The economic impact study measures the impact of the Sundance Film Festival on jobs, wages, and value-added (or gross state product) on the state of Utah during a two-week period in January 2011. It also provides an estimate of the fiscal impacts that result from the increased economic activity generated by the Festival during the study period. Fiscal impacts refer to the effects of the Festival on state and local tax collections.

Estimating the economic impact of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was a two-part process. The first
phase of the study estimated the economic impacts of direct expenditures made by the Institute to
produce the Festival. The second phase estimated the impacts of spending by Festival attendees.

University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research
Established in 1932, the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) is an applied research
center in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. BEBR’s mission is to conduct and
support research related to the structure of the Utah economy, its resources, and its potential for
expansion. Since its inception, BEBR has been a primary source of information on the Utah economy. BEBR’s professional staff gathers and analyzes data specific to both Utah and the Rocky Mountain Region to identify those factors which influence the state’s economic growth.

About Sundance Institute
Sundance Institute is a global nonprofit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Son of Babylon, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, I Am My Own Wife, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America.

About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)  Web: The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Governor Gary Herbert’s commitment to economic development statewide. Utah’s economic development vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business destination. The mandate for this office is to provide rich business resources for the creation, growth and recruitment of companies to Utah and to increase tourism and film production in the state. GOED accomplishes this mission through the administration of programs that are based around targeted industries or “economic clusters” that demonstrate the best potential for development. GOED utilizes state resources and private sector contracts to fulfill its mission.  For more information please contact:  Michael Sullivan, 801-538-8811 or

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Media Contact:
Brooks Addicott

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