The study, conducted by Grand Valley State University, outlines an infusion of $4.9 million into the Berrien County economy because of Krasl Art Center and Art Fair activities, while supporting 45 jobs.
The study is based on data collected in 2021 through surveys of KAC visitors, Krasl Art Fair visitors, and Krasl Art Fair artists.
Respondents were asked:
The value generated by KAC and the Art Fair includes:
The study shows the Krasl Art Fair to be an important driver of consumer spending and tourism in southwest Michigan. In 2021, the two-day mid-July event held in St. Joseph’s Lake Bluff Park generated $1.2 million in economic impact through the activities of 14,011 visitors and 150 artists.
When compared to other art fairs, festivals, and special sporting events throughout Michigan, the Krasl Art Fair matches or exceeds daily economic impact levels.
Of survey respondents:
KAC staff reimagined the event following the 2020 pandemic hiatus. By transforming the Art Fair into a more sustainable activity, it now serves as a fundraiser for KAC through the introduction of a modest admission fee that augments vital corporate sponsorships and member funding.
The event also is a catalyst for bringing area residents, visitors, sponsors, artists, and businesses together in unique ways. Longtime Art Fair sponsor Signature Toyota of Benton Harbor is just one example of community connections made as a result of Art Fair participation.
“Supporting the Krasl Art Fair is a way for us to give back to the community. In the process, it gives us the opportunity to strengthen our ties to the community,” states Signature Toyota General Manager Bill Crowder. “In the past, we’ve brought cars downtown and put them on display at the Art Fair. That always sparks great conversations and new connections. In fact, one year, we sold a car on the spot.”
A more recent sponsor of the event, 1st Source Bank Wealth Advisory Services Senior Vice President, Chris Strafford shares, “Sponsoring and participating in the Krasl Art Fair is a great way for us to support the community. Our investment in the arts reinforces our commitment to help build good places to live, work and raise our families. We have also found that it is an excellent way to bring people of all ages to southwest Michigan to enjoy art in a beautiful setting. The results of this study further enhance why we chose to be the presenting sponsor of the event.”
Viewed separately in the report are the economic contributions KAC makes to the region. Gallery visits to Krasl Art Center generate and support an estimated $3.6 million in annual economic impact. This amount is derived from three sources:
The Art Center’s economic impact is driven by non-local, casual visitors. Casual visitors are those who visit the community for other reasons but who include Krasl Art Center as part of their overall experience while in town.
KEY METRICS ON GALLERY VISITORS BASED ON THE STUDY:
This Economic Impact Report specifically quantified the impact of KAC’s gallery visitors and the Art Fair. What it cannot measure is the social, cultural, and personal impact Krasl Art Center and Krasl Art Fair have on people of all ages through classes, outreach, and special events, the sharing of visual art through gallery exhibitions, and through public, outdoor art.
Based on data from 2020 to April 2022, KAC has impacted 217 Michigan Artists. Additionally, over 580 families and over 1,742 children (ages 18 and under) enjoyed free programming. Again, these numbers are based on a post-pandemic year and are likely lower than usual.
Anna Petlick, St. Joseph native, KAC student through high school, current Grand Rapids artist shared, “The Krasl has been a staple in my life from childhood all the way through the most vital years of my young adulthood. While I enjoyed the kid’s camps my parents took me to when I was little, it was at the start of high school when my love and appreciation for the Krasl really blossomed. Through Krasl Art Center, I gained a safe space, sense of purpose, improved self-esteem, wonderful mentors, and lifelong friends.
“The people make Krasl so special. I would not be who I am, or where I am today, without having Krasl in my community and life. I’ve moved in the decade after I got involved with the Krasl, and I continue to realize how unique and amazing of a resource it is. I truly hope Krasl continues to grow and thrive for decades to come like the people it impacts,” added Petlick.
Krasl Art Center leadership plans to continue this type of specific and intentional data-driving examination of organizational activities to ensure that staff and financial resources provide the most impact. In 2022, this will include new surveys of visitors and Art Fair artists. Information will be published in 2023.
The Krasl Art Fair on the Bluff will continue to feature artists in St. Joseph on the second weekend of July, with a Block Party the Friday before to welcome the artists that help make this work possible. As KAC’s largest fundraiser, the modest $5 admission supports free exhibitions in the community, allowing KAC to continue providing this positive economic impact to Berrien County.