The ArgusSpecial report: Glyndebourne's £16m boost to Sussex economy (From The Argus)

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Special report: Glyndebourne's £16m boost to Sussex economy

The Argus: A production of Hansel und Gretel at Glyndebourne last year A production of Hansel und Gretel at Glyndebourne last year

Glyndebourne contributes more than £16 million to the Sussex economy, a report has found.

The gross economic impact of Glyndebourne, in Ringmer, supports the equivalent of 682 permanent jobs with £10.8 million of gross value added (GVA).

The 600-year-old country house, home of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera since 1934, pays more than £3 million in wages to employees, many drawn from the area.

Guests spend more than £11 million at hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions.

David Pickard, general director of Glyndebourne, said: “Our location here in East Sussex is a big part of what makes Glyndebourne so special for audiences, staff and visiting artists alike.

“We're very proud that the company makes such a significant contribution to the local economy and to the reputation of the area as a cultural destination, and look forward to exploring closer partnerships with both local businesses and East Sussex County Council.”

The findings were revealed in an economic impact report launched today by BOP Consulting, commissioned by Glyndebourne and East Sussex County Council, with additional funding from Arts Council England and the East Sussex Arts Partnership.

The largest economic contribution comes from audience spend for the annual festival.

In 2013 86% of the 98,000 festival visitors came from outside Sussex and the research reveal them to be a large, high-value group who would not otherwise visit the area.

Half of the money was spent in nearby Lewes which benefits from £8.6 million - the equivalent of employing 354 people.

The opera house spends more than £1 million with Lewes-based suppliers and a further £300,000 with East Sussex suppliers.

It brings visitors, artists and jobs to Lewes and its presence has encouraged specialist businesses to start up, while businesses that work with Glyndebourne gain revenue, prestige and footfall.

Rupert Clubb, director for communities, economy and transport at East Sussex County Council, said: “We have a county with an extraordinarily high quality cultural offer and we are very fortunate to have Glyndebourne as a highlight of our cultural destinations.

“This study demonstrates its value both as an employer, a part of our tourism offer and also in terms of the contribution Glyndebourne makes to the local community.”

The Glyndebourne Festival was founded in 1934 by John Christie and his opera singer wife Audrey Mildmay.

The registered charity has remained financially independent since its inaugural season while receiving some Arts Council support for the tour and some education work.

With more than 150,000 visitors every year the report aims to demonstrate the economic value of the arts for funding and marketing.

Glyndebourne is the largest business in the Lewes area with a turnover of £25 million.

David Clark, president of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and managing director of Clark and Sons jewellers, said: “Glyndebourne has a hugely positive impact on the whole surrounding area - it helps everyone from restaurants to shops to hotels.

“People come from and wide to watch the productions and that feeds into the local economy in all sorts of different ways; it has massive benefits.

“It helps us in the jewellery business because whilst visitors are in Lewes they explore the surrounding villages and if they say something they like they will often pick it up.

“We find a lot of out costumers are coming for the opera.”

Natalie Canavan, general manager at Shelleys Hotel and Restaurant, Lewes, said: “In the summer season it's definitely one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area.

“We benefit from a lot of customers who have been using our hotel for many years.

“When they pay the bill they say 'see you next time' and year after year they come back.

“A lot of regular opera goers get the listings before they are out and book their accommodation well in advance which is good for us.

“It's not just accommodation - they will have dinner, take a picnic basket, afternoon tea and evening drinks. All hotels will say the same.”

Glyndebourne employs 150 direct staff all year round, 600 performing company and production staff and 1,500 artists and singers over the course of the year.

Of the festival's 98,000 visitors 96% are from outside the area. And of the 35% who spend the night an average of £81 is spent per day per person.

The festival generated 21,000 overnight stays in the immediate area, plus 40,000 in East Sussex and 5,000 in Brighton and Hove.

Staff and collaborators started working there in the 1970s and 1980s the London Philharmonic Orchestra based there.

The orchestra manager said the location created stability and was “extremely healthy” for players.

One transport company was cited to have increased its turnover from £300,000 to £1.7 million after working with Glyndebourne.

The on-site restaurant Leiths employs 300 during peak season with 60% to 70% of seasonal staff are from the local area.

High-value visitors said they would stay longer if they knew more about other cultural attractions in East Sussex.

Council leaders said better partnership between Glyndebourne, local business and the local authority's tourist promotion was needed after people said East Sussex County Council did little to market the attraction.

Keith Glazer, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “Historically we have not made the most of what we have. Anything we can do collectively is good.”

Media including The Argus was praised for giving Glyndebourne a high profile and regular coverage.

Business called for discounted tickets as a goodwill gesture and to make the opera more accessible beyond its typical audience.

  • A preview of the 2014 festival programme will be in The Guide on Friday, March 7.

In numbers

£25m - Glyndebourne turnover 150,000 - visitors each year

£16.25m - gross economic impact

£10.8m - gross value added (GVA) 682 - equivalent jobs

£8.6m - economic impact in Lewes

600 - estimated age of country house

3,367 - responses to economic impact report

1,500 - artists and performers each year

£81 - spent by visitors each day

£4.5m - amount paid in wages

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