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Front Page » Arts & Culture » County investigates: How big was Art Basel?

County investigates: How big was Art Basel?

Written by on December 11, 2013
County investigates: How big was Art Basel?

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.”


One Response to County investigates: How big was Art Basel?

  1. DC Copeland

    December 13, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Instead of calling for another study re Art Basel’s economic impact, next year on the last day of Art Basel and the other spin-off art fairs, send some minimum wage workers around the participating galleries with a clipboard and a pencil to ask how much they sold. Let the galleries know they won’t have to give up their names and won’t be taxed on sales. Or, you could just set up a county website for the galleries to answer those same questions. Neither approach will guarantee any accurate figures but they will probably be closer to the truth than the “estimated” ones Michael Spring came up with.

    Of course, in the end, whatever the sales numbers are, they won’t reflect the true economic impact on the county because all of that money will be going to Art Basel and the galleries which are, for the most part, out of town. Perhaps a better approach would be to hit up the hotels, restaurants, clubs, car rental agencies, etc during that period.