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What is the impact of ’The only show in town’?

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Mike Heine
November 1, 2007
— Officials at UW-Whitewater are wondering just how much economic impact the university’s Young Auditorium has on the area.

Associate professor Russ Kashian, an economist for the Fiscal and Economic Research Center, and Ben Strand, development director for the Young Auditorium, are working together to conduct an economic impact study of the facility.


They want to find out how the auditorium improves the economy of the city and county.


“There was a national study of the economic impact of theaters and the arts. We decided to look at it at a local level,” Kashian said. “The thing about the Young Auditorium, as opposed to university theaters in Green Bay or Milwaukee, is it’s the only show in town.”


“This study will remind the community of the value of the university,” Strand said in a university news release.


Surveys were mailed the first week of October to 1,500 randomly selected, non-student attendees who visited during the last two years.


The surveys are designed to find out how much money they spent during their time in Whitewater for the performance, revealing the financial contribution the Young Auditorium puts into the economy.


Results will be announced Jan. 25, before the St. Petersburg Ballet’s performance of “Carmen” at the auditorium.


Kashian would not speculate about the theater’s economic impact.


“I think people will be a little surprised,” he said. “It’s a tiny theater, but people are coming in, dropping $40, $50 or $60 besides the ticket money. Whether that’s at gas stations or restaurants, it comes back into the economy.”


The auditorium has 1,300 seats and averages 24,000 patrons at about 27 performances per year. Since it opened in 1992, more than 1.4 million people have passed through the facility’s doors, according to statistics provided by Strand.


The national theater study showed local patrons spent about $15 extra per show and out-of-towners spent an extra $30, Strand said.


Most people come to Young Auditorium from within 60 miles to see shows that tour nationally, Strand said. Many of the Broadway performances that play in Chicago, Milwaukee or Madison make brief stops at the Young Auditorium, making it a regional destination for top entertainment, Strand said.



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