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Report Shows $125M Economic Boost From Orchestra

By Michael Vincent on May 27, 2024

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has released an economic impact study revealing a $125M boost to the regional economy. For every dollar spent by the symphony, four dollars are generated locally. This means the orchestra’s $33M budget sustains about 1,900 jobs.

CEO Stefani Pashman highlighted the crucial role arts and culture play in the region’s economy and quality of life. This report is a strategic asset for fundraising efforts amid evolving audience behaviours and inflation pressures.

By the numbers

  • The PSO generates approximately $125 million in annual economic impact from a combination of patron spend on PSO/Heinz Hall concerts, and the educational and cultural impact of our community collaborations.
  • For every dollar spent by PSO, there is a $4 return to our community.
  • PSO attracts more visitors to the Cultural District than all other arts-producing organizations combined.
  • PSO sustains almost 1900 jobs annually in the Pittsburgh MSA, 7 times our direct employee base.

Why the boost?

The symphony’s high regional impact is partly due to its strong educational ties with local universities, which draw students and generate significant tuition revenue. Additionally, attendees contribute to the local economy through spending on gas, dining, and accommodations.

Faced with a structural deficit, the symphony aims to leverage this data to secure more funding. As CEO Melia Tourangeau noted, the orchestra’s loss would leave a $100M hole in the city’s economy. Now, with a robust value proposition, the PSO is poised to make its case to potential donors and foundations.

Deeper dive

As reported by Bloomberg, a 2018 study from Nokia Bell Labs linked cultural capital to urban economic growth in New York and London. By analyzing 1.5 million images of cultural spaces from 2007 to 2014, researchers found that culture boosts median income and house prices. Cultural diversity and specialization in areas like performing arts and architecture drive neighbourhood development. However, this growth often leads to gentrification and affordability challenges. The study underscores the need for inclusive cultural and economic development strategies that benefit all urban residents.

Michael Vincent
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