News in Cortland NY

Study Shows CRT Brings Over $1.7 Million into Local Economy During Summer Months

Last summer’s economic impact study of Cortland Repertory Theatre, conducted in partnership with the Cortland Business Development Corp., revealed that CRT contributes over 1.7 million dollars annually to the local economy. The study, with data compiled by Timothy Phillips, Chair of the SUNY Cortland Economics Department, Kathleen Burke, Associate Professor, and their students, examined the spending habits of CRT’s audience, summer employees, and Guild as well as production expenses of the theatre itself.

“The cultural contributions that CRT provides to our local and regional community are well known by residents and county officials.” the report summarizes. “However, the economic impact of CRT is relatively unknown. (Through this study, we have learned that) the theatre injects more than $1,697,000 into our local economy with the majority of this impact being generated within three and a half months that CRT is in production. In particular, the employees of CRT who come to live in the local area for a minimum of one month generate an impact of over $328,000 during the season.”

CRT hires approximately 100 employees each summer as actors, directors, technicians, designers, and musicians. Because most are professionals, a significant portion come from outside the county. These artists recycle over $577,000 of their salaries back into the community, accounting for 34% in the total economic impact of the theatre. Typically, each employee also has guests from outside the county to come to see the shows, creating an additional impact of $94,000 to the region.

This research revealed that 58% of the CRT audience (15,205 total attendees last summer) comes from outside Cortland County. Moreover, the patrons who attend CRT visit local restaurants, injecting over $136,000 into the local economy. These patrons spend money in the regional economy, with 40% choosing to dine out before a performance. Of that amount, 60% chose a restaurant in the Cortland/Homer area. The report listed nearly 200 restaurants where people visited either before or after the shows.

Additionally, the report states that the CRT Guild is “phenomenal in their fundraising ability” and that the “Guild’s financial support is integral to maintaining the theatre’s economic vibrancy”. The Guild spends an estimated $33,500 in its fund raising efforts for the theatre, 44% of which is for the summer refreshment stands.

“The production you see on the Pavilion stage is just the tip of the iceberg” Producing Artistic Director Kerby Thompson says. “Since my first year, we’ve held Friday Night Talk Backs after the shows, where we frequently hear that people have never really thought about what happens ‘off-stage.’ Because of all the backstage work, the effect CRT has on the area is tremendous. Building materials, tools, housing and food for our employees, transportation expenses… all of this is very influential to the theatre and consequently to the county.” Thompson says.

Thompson believes that CRT wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the continued support of the community. “The belief that the theatre adds to the cultural quality of life is undoubtedly the most significant reason that CRT is thriving today. However, with the results of this study, it’s nice to have proof that the theatre does give back to the county economically as well!”

Thompson and the CRT Board of Directors are continuing to investigate the feasibility of an efficient location in downtown Cortland for off-season productions and to expand their technical areas. In the meantime, the Box Office and online sales are now available for the 2007 season at The season kicks off on June 6 with the regional premiere of “Almost Heaven: The Songs of John Denver.” Call 800-427-6160 for more information.