In the past two years, Greenville’s fine art and craft festival Artisphere generated $7.2 million in accumulative economic impact. This year, they’re aiming higher.
“With each passing year it grows in popularity, not only here but outside the Greenville community,” said Artisphere Executive Director Kerry Murphy. “This last year was my sixth as director, and it was by far the largest turnout and impact.”
Surveys conducted by Artisphere organizers said 41% of last year’s attendees had not attended in past years.
Artisphere — a three-day event, now in its 10th year — is a nonprofit organization and event featuring works by renowned artists. This year it will kick off at noon on May 9 and will run through the evening of May 11.
The event features visual as well as performing artists, which include country artist Holly Williams, granddaughter of country legend Hank Williams Sr., as well as musical acts from other genres and regions.
Last year Artisphere had a reported economic impact of $5.5 million, based on data from patron surveys. The previous year’s economic impact of $1.7 million is likely an underestimation due to limited surveys, said Murphy.
This year, Artisphere will feature 125 artists — five more than last year — and additional venues and aesthetic features, said Murphy. A total of 934 artists applied to participate in the event. Last year’s sales averaged $6,217 per artist, a 47% jump from $4,215 in 2010.
The festival will also start earlier than in 2012, opening at noon on May 9, rather than 4 p.m. “People who may already be working downtown, they can get a chance to see it around lunchtime,” said Murphy, who hopes festivalgoers check out what’s going on and come back later with their families.
Last year, more than 70% of attendees came with their families, according to surveys. Around 30% came from outside of Greenville County, which contributes a significant amount to the area economically, said Murphy.
Much of Artisphere’s turnout depends on the weather, said Murphy. After months of rain, Artisphere fell on the first beautiful weekend last year, which encouraged people to attend the event, said Murphy.
During its first eight years, Artisphere was five times ranked a Top 50 Fine Arts Festival by Greg Lawler’s Art Fair Sourcebook and three times named one of Sunshine Artists magazine’s 100 Best Fine Arts Shows.