Spoleto Festival USA pumps millions into local economy

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - One of the world's major performing arts festival is making a big economic impact in Charleston.

Last year the Spoleto Festival USA brought in about $43 million to the local economy.

It's the 41st year for the Spoleto Festival and Bill Matalene and his wife Carolyn have only missed a couple.

"We missed the first one...we were out of the country, but we've been to all but one since then," Bill said.

They say it's the reason why they retired in Charleston.

The performing arts festival features, theater, dance and music of all kinds from national and international artists. The festival produces its own operas and specializes in rarely performed masterpieces by well known composers.

Jasmine Daquin is visiting from New York and is working some of the Spoleto events.

"Every performance has performed with so much energy and there's so much comradery between the musicians," Daquin said.

She's one of more than 70,000 people who come out each year. Festival officials say last year 53 percent of those people were local and 47 percent were not.

"If you haven't come to Spoleto you're really missing out this is just the most wonderful event," Carolyn said.

In 2014, the festival officials estimated festivals goers spent nearly $21 million on lodging, nearly $4.5 million on food and beverage and nearly $2 million on shopping. A report also shows that people spent more than $2 million on sightseeing, performance tickets, arts & crafts, and other miscellaneous things. That's in addition to spending more than $400,000 on parking.

"Yesterday we said, it's the greatest show on Earth," Carolyn said.

These number don't include the impact of Charleston's companion to Spoleto, Piccolo Spoleto .It features regional artists through performing, literary and visual art and more than 800 performances in addition to Spoleto USA. Piccolo Spoleto's missions is to provide access to the Spoleto USA experience through several free events.

When people come to town for Spoleto USA, officials say they spend nearly six times the amount of what the average South Carolina visitor spends.

Daquin hopes to be back as a musician in a show during a future festival.

"I plan on auditioning for the orchestra and maybe in a few years trying to be part of the Chamber of Musicians Ensemble as well," Daquin said.

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