Arts and cultural organizations and festivals in Muskegon County made a significant impact on the area’s economy and quality of life in 2022, contributing an estimated $67.6 million in revenues and value to the region, according to Visit Muskegon, the county’s destination marketing organization. This 2022 economic impact number, representing 18.4% of the overall estimated tourism economic impact of $366.6 million* for 2022 in Muskegon County, illustrates the importance of arts and cultural organizations and festivals to this lakeshore community. (*Source: Tourism Economics, MEDC) "These numbers demonstrate that Art and Culture continues to have a major impact on economic development in Muskegon,” said Kirk Hallman, Executive Director of the Muskegon Museum of Art. “In addition, the arts sector itself continues to directly invest in its own infrastructure including the renovation of the Frauenthal Center and the Muskegon Museum of Art expansion project - all of which will dramatically increase these already impressive numbers in years to come." Arts and cultural organizations and festivals generated $43.2 million in economic impact for the county through lodging, food and beverage, souvenirs, vendor revenues, rentals, ticket sales, and parking revenues, and another $24.4 million in employee salaries, operations, sponsorships, grants and foundation revenues. “Muskegon County’s arts and cultural organizations have long been part of the fabric of life here in the Muskegon area,” said Bob Lukens, Director of Visit Muskegon, the county’s state-designated convention and visitors bureau. “These organizations, paired with the many festivals held here during the warmer months, have truly aided in the development Muskegon as a year-round visitor destination.” The $67.6 million economic impact estimate was compiled by a survey of the county’s arts and cultural organizations and festivals, and included information on attendance and demographics from the individual organizations and festivals, plus statistical information from, Smith Travel Research, and the U.S. General Services Administration. The Muskegon Arts and Culture Coalition and local festival organizers worked with Visit Muskegon to develop the survey and gather information. “These numbers represent a c estimate of the economic impact of arts and culture organizations and festivals in our local economy,” Lukens said, “still, even these conservative estimates show the huge impact this economic sector plays throughout Muskegon County.”
"Festivals add to the economic impact in our community, not only with local residents attending the events, but also with out-of-town visitors,” said Chris Zahrt, Sponsorship Director of the Michigan Irish Music Festival. "In addition to the general festival impact made by out-of-town guests, the overnight stays in our local hotels are a significant piece of this larger picture. Oftentimes, we hear from visitors who have discovered our community because of the festivals, have planned return trips at other times of the year to visit local arts and cultural attractions, making Muskegon their go-to vacation plans for future years." Arts and cultural organizations in Muskegon County employ 145 people full-time and enlist the help of more than 780 volunteers to assist in program delivery and other tasks. Muskegon County’s festivals – all of which are volunteer driven – count on approximately 3,230 volunteers to make them a success. Lukens said a 2023 survey will be distributed in coming weeks, and the 2023 economic impact estimate will be released in late March.