Prospect.1 New Orleans
Economic Impact Report | Visitor Profile

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"Prospect.1 did a lot internationally and nationally to put New Orleans on the map for a place to see contemporary art and mobilized local artists to get organized.”
− Anonymous

I’ve heard nothing but good things.  [Prospect.1] was definitely a success for the city…  It legitimized New Orleans as an art center and exposed a lot of people not familiar with the city to it for the first time.” 
 − Gallery Owner

[Prospect.1] helped establish Jazz and Heritage as a gallery and an important visual arts facility. We are now much more active in the visual arts, and it has stimulated a lot of programming since. It was great for making new connections, getting new members, and finding new funding sources.”    
− Executive Director, The Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation

In its inaugural year, Prospect.1 New Orleans featured the work of 81 leading international contemporary artists in 24 exhibition venues, occupying 100,000 square feet of space which was widely spread over miles of the city’s eclectic, historic, and some still blighted neighborhoods. Prospect.1 artists contributed site specific contemporary pieces embedded around the city in a way that powerfully reinforced the unique challenges of rebuilding a historic city brought to its knees by a catastrophic event. From November 1, 2008 to January 18, 2009, Prospect.1 featured the work of 81 leading international contemporary artists, bringing more than 42,000 individual visitors (89,000 admissions) and positive media coverage from local, national, and international press to the city of New Orleans.  The biennial generated a citywide economic impact of $23.2 million.

Summary - Economic Impact

  • Visitor spending on hotels, restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment generated more than half of the biennial’s impact −  $13,945,176 − contributing $1,255,065 in city and state sales taxes.
  • For the duration of the biennial, from October 2008 to January 2009, hotel occupancy was up, compared to the same period in 2007-2008 (62.6% versus 57.7%, respectively).
  • One of every eight visitors purchased works of art from local galleries or stores, demonstrating Prospect.1’s capacity to expand the marketability of local artists.
  • U.S. Biennial (the parent producer of Prospect.1) and the Contemporary Arts Center (a central Prospect.1 venue) reported a combined $2,847,497 million in exhibition expenditures in New Orleans.
  • Prospect.1 produced extensive local, national, and international press coverage with an equivalent advertising value of $5,141,233.

Methodology - Economic Impact

1) Admissions are reported to be 89,000; Attendance is reported to be approximately 42,000 individual visitors.

The exhibition was free and open to the public and there was no specific tracking mechanism in place to count how many people actually attended. However, intercept surveying was done at three of the major venues, and the responses to survey questions allows for reasonable assumptions/conclusions. These projections have been used to report admissions (headcount through the door) and attendance (individual people).

Total admissions were calculated as the sum of the self-reported headcount from three major venues (all of whom have regular staffing at lobby reception desk), and increased by 20% to account for admission at 21 additional venues:

–    New Orleans Museum of Art – 35,373 admissions
–    Contemporary Arts Center – 22,935 admissions
–    Louisiana State Museum (The Mint) – 16,079 admissions

Total Admissions: 89,264 = 74,387 reported admissions + 20% estimated additional.

Total attendance was calculated using survey results that 12% of respondents visited one Prospect.1 venue only, providing a reasonable way to eliminate ‘double counting of individuals’ in the headcount “admissions.”

The 35,373 individuals who visited the New Orleans Museum of Art were used as the base number of attendees. Assuming 12% of the estimated 53,627 additional admissions visited only one venue (the venue where the respondent took the survey), 6,435 admissions can be considered unique individuals. 

Total Attendance: 41,808 = 35,373 admissions at NOMA + 12% of 53,627 (6,435).

2) Economic Impact is reported to be $23,188,965:

–    Consumer Spending by attendees totaled $13,945,176; 
–    City and state taxes totaled $1,255,065;
–    Direct expenditures totaled $2,846,497;
–    Marketing/Advertising value totaled $5,141,233.

Consumer Spending
Based on survey results, 50% of the 42,000 attendees (21,000 people) were visitors to New Orleans and stayed an average of three days. The average daily spending by tourists as tracked by the New Orleans Convention and Tourism Board –$211 per day – was used to calculate that Prospect.1 attendees from out of town spent a combined $13,293,000 on hotels, cabs, restaurants, entertainment and shopping. The Americans for the Arts Calculator was used to calculate local spending on the event. $31.00 per day was determined as the average spending $29.77 per day for a city the size of New Orleans plus an additional $1.23 to account for the geographical configuration and scale of Prospect.1). Total local spending by 21,000 attendees from New Orleans was calculated to be $652,176. Only one day of spending was assumed per local visitor.

Tax Revenue
Visitor spending is calculated to have produced $1,255,065 in city and state sales tax revenue.

Direct Expenditures
U.S. Biennial (the organization that produces Prospect New Orleans) and the Contemporary Arts Center (a key exhibition venue) reported a combined $2,847,497 million in exhibition expenditures in New Orleans, including payments to permanent and temporary staff, contracts with both New Orleans and New York companies for design, promotional services, construction, and event planning.

Marketing Value
Two public relations firms were contracted to assist in media relations and communications for Prospect.1: Blue Medium based in New York City and EBO Networks, a New Orleans based firm. The modest $200,000 paid to these firms, when viewed as an investment in media coverage, yielded an impressive $4,904,233 million return, based on its equivalent value to paid advertising. 

Additionally, a strong marketing partnership forged to assure a high profile for Prospect.1 in the communications budget of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (the official marketing arm for the City of New Orleans) was valued at $237,000 equivalent to paid advertising.

Visitor Profile

An audience survey conducted by Helicon Collaborative, a research company based in Brooklyn, New York, had the express purpose of contrasting audiences who visit a cultural institution as part of a New Orleans itinerary, versus audiences who visit New Orleans specifically to attend a cultural event.  The survey titled Prospect.1 Audience Survey Analysis is available in full from the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. Results are reported by U.S. Biennial with permission. 

In all 1,196 surveys were completed, based on intercept interviews administered over 10 days during October, November, December and January on the premises of 12 of the 24 exhibition venues. Findings include:

  • Of Prospect.1’s 42,000 attendees, 20,000 were locals and 22,000 came from other parts of the country and world; 39% of those in attendance came from other parts of the United States. The percentage of visitors from New York, California, Washington D.C., Massachusetts and Illinois was equivalent to those from the regional states of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi; international visitors accounted for 3% of attendance.
  • Visitors not only visited exhibition sites, they also took historic walking tours, went to music clubs, dined out, and purchased art and antiques. Hotel occupancy between October, 2008 and January, 2009 was 62.6% (versus 57.7% for the same period in 2007). While data collection methods were not rigorous enough to attribute this increase solely to Prospect.1, it likely played some role. Two hotels that targeted business from Prospect.1 directly attributed increased room bookings to Prospect.1.
  • Daily spending reported by survey respondents averaged: $289 on accommodations, $140 on restaurants, $135 on local transportation, $78 in bars and nightclubs, $88 on recreation, $145 on shopping, totaling $875 in local spending per person, per day.
  • 80% of those surveyed came with at least one other person, revealing that Prospect.1 was a social experience for the vast majority of attendees; 94% of attendees said they would recommend Prospect New Orleans to a friend, and 93% reported that they themselves will return.
  • Prospect.1 heightened the profile of and resulted in greater visitor counts for exhibition venues, as reported by the Contemporary Arts Center, The New Orleans Museum of Art, Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Louisiana State Museum (Mint).  Over the long run this will strengthen the alliance between these cultural organizations.

Education Program Outcomes

The mission of the Prospect.1 education effort was to develop an appreciation of contemporary art in young people through teacher training, guided exhibition tours, student exhibitions, and technique training with professional artists.  Prospect.1’s Education Program focused on three key areas: Field Trips, Teacher Training, and Student Exhibitions. From the outset, the education program generated significant interest from the community, far surpassing initial expectations. The educational community overwhelmingly embraced this opportunity and was eager to engage their students through in the exhibition. By developing a close, reciprocal relationship with the educational departments of the Contemporary Arts Center and Louisiana State Museum’s Old US Mint, the Prospect.1 educational staff, with participating teachers, was able to make an extremely positive impact on the youth and educators of New Orleans.
–    3,042 students took field trips to Prospect.1’s installations at the Contemporary Arts Center and the Louisiana State Museum’s Old US Mint.

–    175 teachers participated in educator workshops and other teacher initiatives.

–    22 schools took advantage of financial assistance provided by the Education Program for transportation to and from the exhibition.

–    Over 350 students from local high schools exhibited their works at the W Hotel New Orleans and Contemporary Arts Center.