There are numerous reasons why the Roaring Fork Valley represents a tremendous opportunity for a performing, cinematic and culinary arts center. Colorado enjoys one of the highest rates of arts participation in the country, and the demographics of the population in the Midvalley indicate that residents here will attend in even higher numbers than the Colorado average. Currently, residents have limited options for experiencing performing, cinematic and culinary arts and there is no venue like the Arts Campus at Willits that integrates them. Finally, the high volume of tourists that enjoys all that the valley has to offer provides another potential audience that can be tapped.
Data from the National Endowment for the Arts 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) report quantifies Colorado’s impressive rates of adult attendance at performing arts events. Here are some of the relevant Colorado highlights:
• Approximately 50% of adults went to a performing arts event in the 12 months ending in July 2012.
• 21% of Colorado’s adults attended a classical music performance. That rate was significantly higher than the national classical attendance rate of 8.8%.
• In attendance at musical plays or opera, Colorado significantly surpassed the U.S. average of 16%.
• In attendance at non-musical plays, Colorado averaged 14% of adults, well above the national attendance rate of 8.8% for that category.
• Colorado was the only state that ranked above the national rate of dance attendance. In the 12 months surveyed, 13.2% of the state’s adults attended a ballet or “other dance” performance such as modern dance or tap. That rate was more than five percentage points higher than the U.S. rate of 7.4%.
The SPPA study goes on to quantify a correlation between arts attendance and three factors: higher levels of education, lower poverty rates, and the number of arts organizations in the region. In Basalt, 46% of the population has a Bachelor’s degree which is double the Colorado average of 23% and far beyond the national average of 17%. In fact, in all of the Arts Campus’s identified markets save Glenwood Springs, the population exceeds the Colorado educational attainment average (El Jebel 26%, Carbondale 26%, Glenwood Springs 21%, Snowmass 42%, Aspen 41%).
Regarding poverty rates, the national poverty rate is slightly over 15%. Yet, in all of the markets that the performing arts center will draw from save Glenwood Springs, the poverty rates are below these averages (Basalt 7%, El Jebel 12.9%, Carbondale 12.9%, Glenwood Spring 18.7%, Snowmass 9.9%, Aspen 5.9%).
Finally, the correlation between arts attendance and the volume of arts organizations is particularly relevant when looking at Basalt and El Jebel, the primary market for the Arts Campus. In this market, there are zero performing arts organizations and only one arts organization, the Art Base, a visual arts nonprofit. Given these factors, it is highly likely that the Arts Campus at Willits can expect audience participation at rates even higher than the Colorado averages.
Along with local participation, tourists to the Roaring Fork Valley are an additional market that could be a significant opportunity for the Arts Campus. From 1996-2015, tourism dollars accounted for 12.9% of all tax revenue in the Mountain Resort region that includes Basalt (The Mountain Resort region includes Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, La Plata, Montrose, Pitkin, Routt, San Miguel and Summit counties). In total, $540 million was spent in the Mountain Resort region on arts and entertainment in 2015 alone which generated $342 million in earnings by arts and entertainment organizations.
Colorado is in the enviable position of being one of the top “aspirational destinations” in the country, with 21% of Americans indicating they were interested in visiting the state in 2015. Colorado is truly a destination that people want to visit and the Arts Campus stands to benefit from this by providing artistic attractions that complement outdoor recreation activities.