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Star Parties, Blue Grass, Hopi Dances Bringing Ninety Million Dollars to Flagstaff 

“The dedication and passion for the arts and science draws tourists, benefits residents and impacts the local economy by $90 million each year.”

  1. T. Tannous, Director, Flagstaff Arts Council


Flagstaff’s rich culture of arts and science contributes to the city’s character, sophistication and diversity. Events like the Flagstaff Festival of Science link world-class science and scientists to the next generation of explorers, innovators, doctors and technicians. The premier Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra is first class in every way. And the Hopi Festival at the Museum of Northern Arizona reminds us that early residents of the region have been farming, creating and celebrating here for hundreds of years. The dedication and passion for the arts and science draws tourists, benefits residents and impacts the local economy by $90 million each year.


Events like the Flagstaff Festival of Science, Flagstaff Hullabaloo and Arizona Highland Celtic Festival draw tourists, benefit locals and impact the Flagstaff area economy by $90 million each year. That is according to a new study presented by the Flagstaff Arts Council showing the impact of arts and science on the community.

Findings show the number has increased by $17 million, up from $73 million in the last five years. “I absolutely love the results,” said Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julie Pastrick. “They show the dedication and passion to arts and science in this state. We have brilliant minds, brilliant focus and brilliant goals.”

According to local leaders, the growth is felt throughout the city, as well as on the Northern Arizona University campus. “NAU has plans for even more expansion of the arts,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “A new auditorium is In the process of being built, providing a larger and more progressive space for the arts.”

Arts Council Executive Director John Tannous said the findings reveal that 3,035 local jobs exist because of the arts and science sector in Flagstaff. Some $20.6 million in tourist spending into the local economy is also attributed to festivals and other events.

The current per-person tourist spending in Flagstaff is $86.87, which is substantial compared to the national average of $47.57, said Tannous. Events such as the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra created $5,403 in consumer spending by the audience surveyed, which was only 10.4 percent of the audience at one of seven symphony concerts over the course of the year; the Hopi Festival at the Museum of Northern Arizona totaled $15,380 by 4.3 percent of the audience surveyed. These numbers do not count the price of tickets. They do include spending for transportation, meals, souvenirs and lodging.

“Flagstaff is unique because people visiting are more likely to stay and spend compared to other cities,” said Tannous. “This is because of our location and distance from other cities.”

The study found that more than 40 percent of tourists visiting Flagstaff spend on overnight accommodations after events in the art and science sector. “Not everyone travels for art but everyone expects it,” said Flagstaff Convention and Visitor Bureau Director Trace Ward.

Local government is also directly impacted by the non-profit arts and science sector. According to the study, more than $4.6 million is produced in city tax revenue, and another $4.3 million in state tax revenue each year.

“Expecting the arts to remain a critical element of the community will be a continuous challenge that needs to be overcome to maintain positive growth,” said John Stigmon, president and CEO of the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA).

In its effort to improve, grow and sustain the arts and science component of the community, the Flagstaff Arts Council is hosting a Flagstaff Arts and Science Forum this month.

This study was conducted by Americans for the Arts as well as Flagstaff Arts Council, which collected the local data. Financial support for the cost of the study was provided by NAU College of Arts & Letters, the City of Flagstaff, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce and Lowell Observatory. FBN


By Katelyn Cordasco, FBN


Photo caption:

A young girl learns how to use a metate to grind corn, a tool used in the Southwest by Native cultures hundreds of years ago, during Science in the Park. The event was part of last month’s Flagstaff Festival of Science.

Photo by Bonnie Stevens



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