South African Cultural Observatory

SACO showcases new, free Event Impact Calculator at Cape Town workshop

BY 31.08.17

THE South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) – a national public research entity of the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC), hosted by Nelson Mandela University – is training South African event and festival organisers on how to use its new free, online tool for measuring the economic impact of events.

The South African Festival Economic Impact Calculator (SAFEIC) is a ground-breaking online tool for measuring the impact of events on the South African cultural and creative economy. The SACO will be hosting a workshop on the SAFEIC, and its application and uses, at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town on September 5, 2017.

“This free online calculator, developed by the Cultural Observatory and launched in May this year, has been carefully and conservatively designed and tested to produce reliable and valid results for a wide range of festivals and events – provided the data inputted is accurate,” said Prof Richard Haines, SACO Chief Executive.

The calculator reports on three key elements of economic impact: total spending on accommodation; total amount spent by the organisers in the host economy and the actual economic impact including the multiplier effect on the host economy.

SAFEIC was developed by two experienced cultural economists: Prof Bruce Seaman from Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, and Prof Jen Snowball, SACO Chief Research Strategist, and economics lecturer at Rhodes University.

The tool is based on a regional economic impact calculator developed specifically for cultural events in the United States, and adapted for South Africa with the assistance of the original modeller.

“Until now, the only way to estimate the economic impact of an event was to run an expensive visitor survey and employ a researcher to analyse the data and calculate the impact.  Not all events have the budget to do that, so the SAFEIC offers a reliable way of estimating economic impact at no cost,” said Prof Snowball.

 The SAFEIC is driven by event data. To run SAFEIC, a festival or event requires a minimum of seven pieces of information including:

  1. the number of days the festival or event is run over;
  2. the population of the host city or town (obtainable from Stats SA);
  3. the total number of attendees;
  4. the average visitor spend on accommodation per night (obtainable via visitor survey or data from SA Domestic Tourism);
  5. the average visitor spending on items other than accommodation (also obtainable from a survey or SA Domestic tourism);
  6. funding or sponsorship received from outside the host town or city; and
  7. earnings derived from tickets sales.

“The online calculator provides an estimate of the economic (financial) impact of an event on the economy of the town or city the event takes place in. Of course, the financial value of culture is only part of the overall value, but it can be a powerful way of showing local communities and sponsors how the cultural economy helps to encourage regional economic growth and create jobs,” said Prof Snowball.

Economic impact studies also show the financial benefits of hosting cultural festivals and events, and can be effective in communicating the value of the event to funders, local residents and other stakeholders.

“While the SAFEIC won't provide the same level of detail as a survey and impact study done for that specific event, it will provide a realistic estimate of what the economic impact is. An added bonus is that the results can be used in feedback to communities and sponsors,” she added.

Haines said the calculator would unlock both an understanding of the impact of events and reporting that supports decision-making and that it was important that event and festival organisers attended the workshops to gain a better understanding of how the SAFEIC works and interface with Prof Snowball.

The South African Festivals Economic Impact Calculator capacity training workshop will take place on September 5 at Iziko Museum South Africa in Cape Town and is free to all registered participants. All participants must register on the SACO website to attend: https://www.southafricanculturalobservatory.co.za/event/monitoring-and-evaluation-economic-impact-calculator-training-5-september-2017

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