County investigates: How big was Art Basel?
Written by Vanessa Zambrano on December 11, 2013
Now that Art Basel is over, county commissioners want to know how much revenue it brought to Miami-Dade.
“Because they are all private commercial art fairs, they closely guard their revenue numbers, so it’s very hard to compute the economic impact,” said Michael Spring, director of the county’s Department of Cultural Affairs, during a Cultural Affairs and Recreation Committee meeting Monday.
He said even though anecdotally the outcome had been very positive, he didn’t know whether the county had the ability to calculate the impact scientifically.
“I think it’s about time we have a resolution wishing our desire to know about the impact of all these activities. Miami-Dade County has so many different activities. We have Art Basel, we have the boat show,” said Commissioner Javier Souto, who is chairman of the committee. “This town moves money; I want to know how much money we move. We need to know exactly how much money this community produces.”
The cultural affairs department did undertake an economic impact study of the non-profit art world, Mr. Spring said.
“Just in the non-profit art world it’s $1.1 billion a year that gets produced in Miami-Dade County,” he said. “I think you can conservatively double that number if you took into account all the commercial activity that goes in here as well. I would estimate more than $2 billion of economic activity attributable to the arts and cultural events.”
This was the 12th year for Art Basel Miami Beach, Mr. Spring noted.
Commissioner Jean Monestime said he would co-sponsor a resolution calling for a study on Art Basel’s impact. “Maybe in partnership with a university or an economic research group… We need to start tracking the effect of Art Basel,” he said. “I’m sure there is someone working on that. We need to be a part of this and see how we can benefit from the dissemination of that information.”
Commissioner Souto said Miami-Dade needs figures related to the economic impact of all cultural activities as well as of other types of events, such as the Sony Open tennis tournament held yearly in Key Biscayne.
“Your feedback is being taken to heart,” said Lisa Martinez, senior advisor for Mayor Carlos Gimenez. She said the cultural affairs as well as the parks, recreation and open spaces departments have been doing this type of work individually until now.
“It’s important, if we’re going to define how this community invests resources,” she said, “to be able to demonstrate how these quality-of-life activities benefit the community.”