2:11 pm in Festival News, News Release


Ottawa (Tuesday, May 11 2010) – World-class festivals and events have been a driving force in the Canadian economy throughout the recession, according to an independent analysis of reports submitted by major festivals to the federal government.

A study released today by the Canadian Festivals Coalition estimates that 15 of the largest festivals and events in Canada—including the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest—attract 12,600,000 attendees annually, contribute $650 million in GDP to their local economies, and support the equivalent of 15,600 full-year jobs nationwide.

This substantial economic impact is derived from operational and tourism spending estimated at $1.1 billion per year. The analysis, commissioned by the Canadian Festivals Coalition and compiled by Toronto-based Enigma Research Corporation, also estimated that tourism and operational spending related to these events generates approximately $260 million in tax revenue for all three levels of government.

The federal government’s support of festivals and events through its Marquee Tourism Events Program played a decisive role in these strong results. As part of the government’s 2009 Action Plan, the program’s two-year $100-million investment recognized that major cultural festivals and events form a sector of the economy that generates significant economic returns.

Industry Canada announced $1.97 million has been invested in the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest. “This is a good-news-story for all Canadians,” says Ottawa Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan. “There’s a very good reason why Canada is leading the world out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. The federal government’s economic action plan is producing staggering outcomes. Their funding of marquee festivals in Canada has produced immediate and meaningful results for the Canadian economy.”

“This study confirms the crucial economic role played by major cultural festivals and events across our country,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival Group and CFC Chair. “In 2009, government investment through the Marquee Tourism Events Program helped festivals expand their programming and extend their marketing reach during a period of global economic instability. This study clearly demonstrates the immediate positive effects of that investment and points to the ability of this cultural sector to grow and develop the tourism base, and to continue to deliver broad-based economic results in the future.”

The 15 events included in the analysis were: the Canadian National Exhibition, the Carnaval de Québec, the Charlottetown Festival, the Festival d’été de Québec, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, Luminato, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, the Pacific National Exhibition, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

“This is by far the most comprehensive and accurate impact measure this industry has ever done,” said Michael Harker, founder and senior partner of Enigma Research. Under the terms of the program, large events were required to submit economic impact assessments with very specific parameters. “The data submitted was carefully analyzed by government officials,” explained Harker. “All events conducted onsite surveys along with other established methodologies to accurately measure attendance and tourism spending.”

The Canadian Festivals Coalition (CFC) is an organization bringing together a group of 12 world-class festivals and events from across Canada. The CFC’s goal is to promote the growing major festivals and events economic sector, which contributes significantly to the Canadian economy, most notably through tourism development.


Impact of 2009 Industry Canada Marquee Tourism Event Program

• With the assistance of Industry Canada’s Marquee Tourism Event Program, Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest’s attendance at the LeBreton Flats Park site grew to 339,141 including 44,699 tourists.

• The new Bluesfest Byward attracted 55,903 attendees, of which 8,704 tourists.

• Establishment of free community programming in the Ottawa Byward Market had tremendous benefits to the Byward Market BIA and its business members.

• The 2009 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest combined overall attendance of 395,044 was responsible for visitor expenditures of over $65 million.

• Almost 62% of tourists attending reported they would not have come to Ottawa except to attend Bluesfest, and another 18% said Ottawa Bluesfest influenced their decision to come to Ottawa.

• Bluesfest 2009 supported an equivalent 152 full time jobs in Ottawa and a total 163 full time jobs in Ontario.

• Total taxes to all three levels of government attributable to the 2009 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest were over $4.5 million.