Artfields resulted in $5 million impact

According to a study, Lake City’s 10-day festival, ArtFields, resulted in a total economic impact of more than $5 million in the area.

LAKE CITY, S.C. — ArtFields, the 10-day art festival in April, had a total economic impact of more than $5 million on the area from visitors, construction jobs created and by event organizers and employees before and during the event.

Columbia-based Miley & Associates Inc., commissioned by the Lake City Partnership Council, found an estimated 22,000 visitors visited the festival, spending an average of $33.

The direct employment of ArtFields was 49 jobs with a labor income of $1.7 million, generated by employees of ArtFields, construction and service workers prior to and during the event and the impacts of visitor spending during the event, according to the study. The direct labor income had a multiplier effect in the area and generated an additional $636,000 in indirect and induced labor creating an additional 19 jobs for a total labor income of $2.33 million for the Lake City area.

Total direct output (economic activity) generated by ArtFields on the Lake City area is estimated to be more than $3.5 million, with indirect and induced impacts generating another $1.8 million, for a total impact of $5.3 million.

Darla Moore, chairman of the Lake City Community Foundation, backed the large festival in her hometown that brought nearly 400 art pieces to the community through a competition featuring $100,000 in prizes to spur growth and recognition of Southern art, both of which she said were accomplished.

“The overwhelming positive responses we received about ArtFields told us we had succeeded in showcasing the creative talent we have in the South,” Moore said in a statement. “And now with the results of the impact study, we know we succeeded in providing a substantial economic boost for our community.”

The downtown saw several buildings, infrastructure and spaces redeveloped significantly in preparation of the inaugural event and will again for next year. A new boutique hotel is planned to be open for ArtFields 2014.

Director Karen Fowler added that ArtFields 2014, which will be April 25 to May 4, “will be an even greater success.”

“ArtFields was truly a huge benefit to Lake City and to the art community,” Fowler said in a statement. “Due to the extraordinary effort put forth by the staff, volunteers and the City of Lake City, we demonstrated a small rural community could come together to successfully host a major art event for the benefit of not only the participating artists but for the community as well.”

Many of the 40 downtown offices and shops saw sales rise as result, as expected, from hosting the art pieces that brought the crowds in from the sidewalks to shop’s like Clark Ward’s shoe shop Ward’s Comfort Shoes, helping spike sales 75 percent and even creating a few repeat customers.

“I expected to do well but not to do that well,” Ward said. “Oh yes definitely (looking forward to next year).”

Also as expected, surrounding areas like Florence saw hotel and restaurant revenue bumps thanks to the traffic.

“This year, some of the spending by visitors most likely occurred outside of the Lake City area,” the report stated. “For example, there is a very limited number of hotel rooms available in Lake City and visitors’ spending on lodging had little if any impact on the Lake City area.”