Winter Light 2009 by the numbers

At tomorrow’s City Council meeting, John Mahon, Executive Director of the Edmonton Arts Council, will share the Final Report on Winter Light Festival 2009. This year’s festival is being described as successful, so the Community Services Committee will recommend:

  1. That one time funding of $450,000 from 2009 Council Contingency, to fund the Winter Light Festival 2010, be approved.
  2. That Administration, in consultation with Edmonton Arts Council, prepare a base funding budget submission of $750,000 for continuation of a winter festival.

Let’s take a look at some numbers from the final report (in Word format):

  • Beginning on January 8 and ending on March 21, 2009, Winter Light produced 9 events, supported 3 existing winter festival events, 1 City winter event, and produced 15 community workshops.
  • Roughly 12,000 people attended the 9 events produced by Winter Light.
  • Over 62,000 people attended all Winter Light related events.
  • The estimated impact on the local economy was $1.7 million.
  • A total of 55 local producers, marketers, artists and recreation workers were directly employed by Winter Light.
  • To continue with the model used this year, it will cost the city $750,000 in 2010 and $675,000 in 2011.
  • Private sector fundraising will attempt to raise at least 10% of the total budget to be used in 2011.
  • An audience survey showed 50% of respondents were between the ages of 30 and 45, roughly 15% were between 18 and 30, and 32% were aged 45 to 60.
  • Over 94% of respondents said “yes” to the question “Do you think Winter Light was a good investment for the city?”
  • The winterlight.ca website received 3 million visits in 3 months.
  • There were more than 800 print, radio, television, and website articles mentioning Winter Light.
  • Over 1500 people subscribed to the Winter Light mailing list.

And some numbers related to expenses:

  • Deep Freeze Festival received $27,000 from Winter Light.
  • Ice on Whyte received $15,000 from Winter Light.
  • Silver Skate received $37,000 from Winter Light.
  • Total revenue for Winter Light 2009 was $808,500 (all but $28,500 of which came from the City).
  • Total expenses were $807,672.
  • A total of $119,031 was spent on a marketing campaign which included outdoor advertising (billboards and buses), print advertising, radio advertising, and electronic advertising.

The report also includes a goals & aspirations assessment. Here’s a wordle of the report (with Edmonton, Winter, and Light removed):

Back in March I wondered if Winter Light 2009 was a success. I concluded that while the concept is sound, there’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to the execution. Final attendance numbers were much lower than originally estimated, which I think supports that argument.

The challenge for Winter Light 2010 (if approved) will be to increase attendance and impact without increasing expense. Hopefully a strong foundation was established this year for accomplishing that.

One thought on “Winter Light 2009 by the numbers

  1. Either didn’t spend enough on marketing, or did a bad job of it, because many people I spoke to didn’t know about it/hadn’t heard of it.

    And to be fair (and this is a flaw in the concept), it was f’ing cold for a lot of the events (like, -30c cold!)

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