A new economic impact study of 17 major Canadian events published today shows that Festivals and Major Events Canada’s request for the federal government to establish a program dedicated to the growth of the events industry is more relevant and timely than ever.
The KPMG study estimates that a group of 17 events generated a combined $290.8 million in economic benefits (added value at market prices). This calculation is based on $396.4 million in eligible expenditures (operations and tourist). The study estimates that the 17 events created or maintained the equivalent of 4,606 jobs (full-time equivalent) and generated tax revenues of $66.6 million ($49.3 million for the Government of Québec, $17.3 million for the Government of Canada).
The study, commissioned by KPMG at the request of the Regroupement des événements majeur internationaux, included nine FAME members. It also concludes that the Government of Canada is receiving 1.78 times what it invests in the events thanks to taxes and other levies.
These figures are obtained under a so-called “restrictive” approach that only takes into account the spending of tourists who came to the destinations mainly because of the events. The numbers are even more impressive when including tourists who came to the destinations partly because of the events. This is another approach provided in the Québec government’s Guide méthodologique pour la réalisation des études sur l’impact économique des grands festivals & événements. In this case, the 17 events generate economic benefits of $355.1 million (added value at market prices), based on $483.5 million in eligible expenditures (operations and tourist). The number of jobs created or maintained rose to 5,598 (full-time equivalent) and tax revenues to $84.2 million ($62.4 million in Québec, $21.8 million in Ottawa).
The events industry can therefore be highly lucrative. The more funds are injected, the greater the economic rewards; as demonstrated by the experience of the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the subject of studies in 2016 and 2017. With $4 million in subsidies from the City of Montréal and the Québec and Canadian governments, the event generated $39.1 million in 2016. In 2017, additional contributions from the Canada 150 Fund and the Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary raised the total subsidies to $5.5 million. These helped to extend the event and, as a result, increased the economic benefit to $48.5 million. This is an additional argument to sow more in order to reap more.
The KPMG study also shows that the holding of events encourages tourists from outside the province, often from abroad, to travel to the venues specially to attend the events and spend “new money” in the economy. Of the 17 events analyzed, 190,603 visitors came from another province or from outside Canada, spending an average of $778.34 per stay and leaving a total of $148.5 million in “new money” in Québec – nearly a quarter on hotels or lodging and one-third on restaurants. FAME believes that with more resources, major Canadian festivals and events will be more attractive and draw more tourists, including international tourists.
Fairness and redistribution requestedFor FAME, one of the current problems is one of equity in Canada. With the exception of Canada Economic Development for Québec Regions, the other regional economic development agencies do not make the event industry a priority and do not support it.
Also, if the Government of Canada supports, for example, the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix to the tune of $7 million per year — recognizing its economic and touristic importance — it does not do the same with the major events cited in the study.
At the Department of Canadian Heritage, which recognizes the role of cultural presenters more than events, budgets of the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (Programming support component: Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters) and of the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage (Local Festivals) program, have not been meeting the demand for a long time. They have not been increased for nearly 10 years. Under these two programs, FAME members receiving grants from Canadian Heritage share approximately $4.5 million annually.
Even if major events lead to a chain reaction in the economy, for example, in transportation, restaurants and hotels, they receive only a small part of the wealth created, with the exception of tickets, when applicable, and a few autonomous revenue items. FAME calls on governments to actively play their role as “redistributors” of some of the wealth in order to keep the wheels turning and enable festivals and events to obtain financing, renew themselves, and grow.
About Festivals and Major Events Canada
Festivals and Major Events Canada is a national association that represents 29 large-scale events and festivals. FAME works jointly with the Regroupement des événements majeurs internationaux to speak as the voice of the festival and events industry, working collaboratively with industry partners, the government, the media and the public to advocate, among other things, for improved federal funding policies.