Berea’s Festival of Learnshops is around the corner, and if past years are any indication, the workshops promise to bring an infusion of outside dollars into the local economy.
The following is a brief review of post-workshop surveys taken from five different Berea craft workshop events, including Twelve Days of Christmas (TDC), Make It, Take It, Give It (MTG) Festival of Learnshops (FOL), and Hands On Workshops (HOW) including February and April classes.
In an attempt to gauge the economic impact of the craft workshops, four questions were selected from the surveys, including whether participants stayed in local lodging, ate at restaurants, shopped locally, and approximately how much money they spent. Tourism Program Coordinator Nancy Conley supplied the data from the surveys.
- Workshops that yielded the most economic benefit for local businesses were well publicized in advance (MTG, FOL). First-time events (such as February/April workshops) that had limited advance advertising still contributed to the local economy, but on a smaller scale.
- Restaurants and shops seem to benefit from the workshops regardless of season.
- The number of participants who stay in local lodging has climbed virtually every year in every workshop category since the classes began. However, on average, nearly two thirds of participants consistently choose not to stay overnight in Berea, especially since some winter workshops average only a couple of hours in length.
Festival of Learnshops
The percentage of FOL participants who do not stay overnight has remained relatively constant at 64 percent. However, as the program grows, the overall number of participants staying in Berea has increased every year, with the exception of a slight dip in 2016.
On average, 83 percent of responding FOL participants reported dining in Berea restaurants. The average number of respondants who do not eat in local restaurants has stayed relatively constant at 17 percent, even as the overall number of diners increased. The number of dining choices in Berea will have increased when the Learnshops begin in summer of 2017 (Clementine’s Bake Shop, The Native Bagel, Wings Etc., Goldstar Chili and Roadside Diner).
FOL participants who reported shopping in Berea has remained constant, with an average of 68 percent doing business with local retailers. One third of participants consistently report not buying in Berea shops or galleries.
Twelve Days of Christmas/Make It, Take It, Give It
Because TDC and MTG sessions typically average two hours in length, it follows that demand for lodging is low, especially during the busy holiday season. Still, the number of participants who stayed overnight in Berea continues to edge up even during the winter workshops, reaching a high point in 2016.
As in the case of FOL, surveys suggest restaurants benefit from the holiday workshops even though the number of hours participants are in town is less than during the summer sessions. With the exception of 2015, the number of restaurant patrons from the holiday workshops steadily climbed.
On average, 66 percent of winter workshop participants reported shopping in Berea.
The post-survey questionnaire has evolved since the inception of the program. The question regarding the amount spent in Berea (excluding workshop fees) began appearing on the surveys following the December 2014 workshops. Not surprisingly, the summer workshops yield the most economic benefit for the local economy, since participants are in town for a longer period of time.
Direct Economic Impact on Local Artists
Complete information regarding compensation for local artisans for past workshops is not yet available, but some recent figures suggest a significant benefit to Berea artisans.
FOL 2016 income passed onto all instructors: $81,551.
FOL 2016 income passed exclusively to Berea instructors: $44,974.
MTG 2016 income passed exclusively to Berea instructors: $19,436.
HOW February 2017 income to Berea instructors: $7,276.
Post-workshop surveys consistently reveal that the sessions draw the most visitors from beyond Berea, including Louisville, Lexington, Richmond, and from out-of-state, infusing money into the local economy.
* Participation levels in the post-workshops surveys fluctuates. As such, the data reported above reflects only the spending of those who elected to participate in the surveys.