Study: Ballet competition brought $10.2M into Capital City

JACKSON — The USA International Ballet Competition’s economic impact leaped into double-digit millions for the first time when it was last in Jackson, with the event’s $10.2 million impact on the state, a recently released study shows.

Compiled by the University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development, the numbers offer an “apples to apples” comparison with figures from previous IBCs, USA IBC executive director Sue Lobrano said.

The USA IBC is held every four years in Jackson. The last event was in 2010. The 2006 event’s estimated economic impact was $7.5 million.

Results are based on program operations and participant/attendee expenditures during the July 2010 two-week event. The impact was calculated using ticket data, hotel reports and IBC records.

One hundred competitors from 31 countries competed, and ticket buyers came to Jackson from 40 states, Puerto Rico and 10 foreign countries.

A total of 27,040 ticket buyers attended the event. Actual attendance was even higher, factoring in the free ancillary events and the 250 USA IBC Dance School students, who joined the audience for most of the competitive rounds.

The economic impact figure “tells me that we’re doing a good job and it tells me that people are still interested in coming to Jackson for this event from many, many states,” Lobrano said.

“The thing that keeps us at the top of the heap for the dancers is the success we continue to have as one of the premier IBCs in the world, if not the premier IBC,” Lobrano said. “Dancers are very interested in getting a job, even more so than winning a medal.

“When dancers come to Jackson, they know they’re going to be seen by many people who can offer them a contract,” Lobrano said. And spectators know they’re going to see dancers bound for the major world stages.

Good economic impact figures are also a vital component in fundraising.

“It helps justify the support from both private and public sectors, that the money they invest in this event is well spent,” said Peyton Prospere, longtime board member and chairman of its budget committee. “There is a return.”

That return is artistic, aesthetic and financial, but the IBC also enhances the city’s self-image and the state’s reputation globally, he said — effects that are more difficult to quantify.

For 2014, the aim is to collaborate further with destinations such as Vicksburg, Natchez and Greenwood and more for day trips or excursions to extend visitors’ time here and “really showcase the state,” Prospere said, “because we do have a lot to offer.

“I can’t think of a better marketing tool than the IBC for the entire state. It really puts us in a very strong light.”

The next USA IBC isn’t until 2014, but dance fans can get their next fix at the July 14 Reunion Gala, which will feature 1990′s Grand Prix winner Jose Carreno.

The Reunion Gala’s topflight dance card is stacked with additional favorites from previous competitions.

Returning medalists are: Misha Ilyin (Russia, senior bronze 2002); Misa Kuranaga (Japan, senior gold 2006) with partner Jeff Cirio (USA, junior bronze 2006); Brooklyn Mack (USA, senior silver 2006); Joseph Gatti, (USA, senior bronze 2006) with partner Adiarys Almeida, Cuba (finalist 2006); Alys Shee (Canada, junior silver 2010); and Candice Adea (Philippines, senior silver 2010) with partner Jean Marc Cordero (Philippines, semi-finalist 2010).

Project dancers John Michael Schert and Annali Rose are also on the program.

Tickets to the Reunion Gala will go on sale May 21.

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