The University of Washington’s Foster School of Business recently came to B-Town to study Burien Actors Theatre’s economic impact on Burien, and their findings are impressive: The top line of the report is that BAT brings an additional $141,000 into the City of Burien. (Not bad for just four productions a year.) Each BAT participant spends an average of $22.27 per production, which is very close to the National average (click image to see larger version): BAT produces four MainStage shows a year, and attracts audiences from Burien and the region, including a few from Vancouver, Canada. Many of BAT’s audience spend money in Burien. Not everyone, of course, but enough people that their spending makes a difference to the City of Burien. Plus BAT spends money in Burien. Theater is great entertainment. It is also a business, and theater helps the community it is located in grow. The national average theater goer spends $23.44 in the community where the theater is located. Looking back at BAT’s tax and other records, for the years 2013-16, the Foster School of Business found BAT averaged 777 audience members per production. Adding the cast and crew, BAT brings about 3,109 people to Burien per year. Over those same years, approximately 1,500 of the audience members filled out questionaires which asked if they ate before the show or planned to eat right afterward. (This is a large enough sample to be statistically significant.) The surveys showed that 57% of BAT’s audience members ate before or after the show. Of those who ate before or after the show, 94% ate at a restaurant in Burien. (BAT has recently added a list of the restaurants in Burien (156) to BAT’s website to make finding just the right place to eat that much easier (download PDF here). Foster then looked at where these audience members came from. Most were from outside Burien. Surveys show that 31% of BAT’s audience comes from Burien. That means 69% of BAT’s audience comes from outside the city. The numbers of audience members from outside of Burien was confirmed by comparing BAT’s online ticket sales, which showed that just 22% of online ticket sales came from Burien. As set out in figures 7 and 9 in the Foster report HERE, Seattle, the Eastside and neighboring cities make up the bulk of BAT’s audiences. But, significant numbers travel quite some distance to see a show at BAT: Audience members who come from outside Burien are more likely to eat at a restaurant in Burien. These are customers to the restaurant who would not likely to eat there, but do so to see a show at BAT. Foster then looked at what the cast and crew spent in Burien. First, what the cast spent during the six-week rehearsal period, and then on Friday and Saturday nights when the cast and crew went out to a bar to eat and unwind after the show. (For the years 2013-16 BAT’s cast and crew most often headed to BAT’s prime sponsor, The Mark Restaurant andBar. The Mark has been replaced.)

The conclusion of the Foster study is that BAT adds $141,000 a year to Burien, all because BAT produces better live theater in Burien.
Then, Foster looked at some of the intangibles that live theater brings to Burien. BAT has relationships with a number of Burien businesses, all of which benefit from the audience who attend BAT’s performances. By coming from outside Burien to a show at BAT, the audience gets to know the City of Burien. BAT knows of at least two of its audience members who moved from Seattle into Burien, a place they visited only because of BAT. The Foster report ends with:
“The cultural value of BAT is difficult to quantify. However, after conversing with numerous businesses that interact with BAT, we can conclude with confidence that BAT’s contributions to Burien extend far beyond its economic value.”
You can help BAT as it helps Burien: Come to a show, check out BAT’s 2017-18 season; donate, if you can, DONATE HERE. (BAT is a 501(c)(3) entity, a nonprofit, so your donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.) Seeing a show at BAT is a win-win. You get better live theater, and you help Burien thrive and grow. Hope to see you at a show!]]>

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

2 replies on “STUDY: Burien Actors Theatre brings additional $141,000 into City of Burien”

  1. Burien Little Theater does a great job bringing live theater to Burien. I would encourage all Burienites to go online to see the schedule and attend a show. We know that shopping and dining in Burien increases the amount of sales tax that supports all of the needs the City of Burien needs to fund. Burien Little Theater has shown that supporting the theater brings in sales tax as well. Imagine how much Burien would be improved if we as Burien residents supported all of the various arts venue. The money stays here for our Burien budget. So take in a show knowing you are supporting your city as well.

  2. BAT is an asset to Burien that should be encouraged but the study does not show what it claims.
    They carefully document how they estimate restaurant expenditures by staff and audience but that is only about a third of their claimed contribution to Burien’s economy. Two thirds are production expenses but they are listed with no information on the amount or where it was spent. Clearly rent is spent here but most of the rest was likely spent out of Burien. It’s likely salaries are the biggest expenditure and could have been easily documented but many of the staff and actors probably do not live in Burien. Other items like insurance, utilities, script costs probably contribute very little to the local economy. Set materials like lumber and lighting would also probably come from out of the area.
    Their theatric productions are of a much better quality that this economic analysis. Based on the info in this report it is likely that they actually bring in about half of what the headline claims.

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