Community stands to lose ‘unique asset’ |

Community stands to lose ‘unique asset’

Pam Jung and Jeff Pelline
Staff Writers

Foothill Theatre Company is a major asset to the community, and area businesses and schools stand to suffer if the performing-arts institution shuts down.

The company’s economic impact on the community amounts to $1.6 million yearly, including money spent by patrons on meals, lodging and shopping, as well as salaries, fees, rents, goods, services and local taxes, according a report by its management.

“Since its founding in 1977, Foothill Theatre has proven to be a unique asset to community life, local schools and local businesses,” the report said.

Foothill holds 129 performances per year for 30 weeks, providing extra business and foot traffic to the community.

In addition, revenue generated by Foothill supports more than 42 jobs in Nevada City and Grass Valley, according to the report.

The theater company’s 25,000 average annual patrons spend close to $695,000 a year on items such as meals and lodging, with close to $28 on average spent by each patron above the ticket price.

The company conducted an audience survey for nine weeks during two of its recent plays, asking patrons if they went out to eat either before or after the show. Close to 3,000 said yes. “It’s a Wonderful Life” generated an estimated $63,520 in restaurant sales alone during its four-week run in December 2007.

Out of the company’s total operating budget last year of $1 million, the report said about $850,000 was paid to local residents, organizations and businesses.

The breakdown in local expenditures from theater-goers includes $325,000 spent on meals, $97,500 for gifts and souvenirs, $125,250 for lodging, $8,500 for child care, $68,000 for transportation and $70,500 for other items.

Schools also benefit from its performances.

“As funding continues to hemorrhage from California schools, and arts programs continue to be cut, there is a desperate need for supplementary activities to expose the children of our communities to art,” the report said. “The loss of Foothill would be a severe blow to local schools, which have come to depend on Foothill to provide such supplementary educational experiences.”

Last year, Foothill performed 40 matinees that served more than 9,700 students at a cost of only $10 per student.

In a three-part series on the economic impact of the arts on the county in The Union earlier this year, the paper reported that for every $1 spent on the arts, as much as $5 is spent elsewhere in the community, the so-called multiplier effect.

To contact Editor Jeff Pelline, e-mail or call 477-4235. To contact Pam Jung, e-mail or call 477-4232.

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