Austin-based AngelouEconomics’ report of four-day festival’s economic impact suggests wide range of benefits from job creation and tax generation to visitor spending and wages

Today, Big Ears released the AngelouEconomics analysis of the economic impact of its four-day 2022 festival, showing a financial boost of $36,100,631 to Knoxville and the regional economy. AngelouEconomics is a leading, independent, Austin-based firm with 27 years of experience in economic analysis, business strategy and development.

“The 2022 Big Ears Festival demonstrates a strong appetite for people from outside of Tennessee to spend the weekend in Knoxville, support the arts and spend money on a world-class event,” said Matt Patton, executive vice president of AngelouEconomics.

Findings show the festival supported an additional 377 full-time job equivalents and $2,627,303 in new local, county and state tax revenue.

The 15-page report, which examines the economic benefits via three independent impact models – festival operations, visitor spending and performer, media, and free event spending impact – also  projects an additional $12,875,290 in labor income from the 377 full-time job equivalents supported by the festival.

The nonprofit Big Ears Festival attracted over 5,000 ticketed attendees each day – nearly 22,000 over the course of the four-day weekend – and provided free entertainment to thousands more. Over 72% of attendees came from out of town, renting accommodations in the Knoxville area with an average length of stay of over four nights. Visitors came from 47 states and 16 countries.

Other key data points include:

  • Direct expenditures total $20.2 million. This includes ongoing expenditures for festival operations, as well as out-of-area visitor spending totals.
  • Indirect and induced impacts total $15.8 million. This figure represents the increase in sales, incomes and jobs for businesses that support Big Ears and increased earnings for those employed as a result of Big Ears-related activity.

The report also breaks down the impact by sector: $9.1 million for Food & Beverage, $4.6 million for Hotels and $1.9 million for Amusement & Entertainment. Full-time equivalent jobs supported by Big Ears by sector include 105 in Food & Beverage, 48 in Ground Passenger Transportation and 41 in Hotels.

“This study from AngelouEconomics offers valuable information for the festival and the Knoxville community and will help inform our next steps,” says Ashley Capps, Founder and Executive Director of Big Ears. “The Big Ears Festival offers a unique and extraordinary opportunity – one with considerable impact now and with even greater potential for the future.”

Big Ears Festival

Described as both as “one of the world’s greatest music bashes” by The New York Times “one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over” by Oxford American, Big  Ears Festival has established itself as one of the most exciting and imaginative cultural gatherings in the world, bringing together a who’s who of established and acclaimed iconoclasts, innovators and influencers with younger artists who are synthesizing their own experiences into fresh, new creative work. Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville and taking place in its world-class historic theaters, excellent clubs and unique alternative performance spaces – all within easy walking distance of one another and intermingled with superb restaurants, bars, and shops – Big Ears offers an unparalleled experience for adventurous artists and audiences alike.

Big Ears is an independent 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. The 2022 Big Ears Festival was made possible by the generous support of The Aslan Foundation, Pilot Corporation, Visit Knoxville, The City of Knoxville, Knox County, Downtown Knoxville Alliance, the Tennessee Arts Commission and additional sponsors, foundations, and individuals.