Tanglewood's $103M Economic Impact On The Berkshires

May 17, 2017

According to a new study, Tanglewood is estimated to have a roughly $103 million economic impact on Western Massachusetts. 

Boston Symphony Orchestra Managing Director Mark Volpe says the Tanglewood Music Center is an economic engine for the Berkshires.

“We very much appreciate the privilege of being in the Berkshires but we want everyone to realize that we are a major not just a cultural force but an economic force,” Volpe says.

The BSO, the Boston Pops and Tanglewood commissioned a Williams College economist, Stephen Sheppard, to put a dollar amount on the economic impact that the BSO’s summer home in Lenox brings to the region.

Sheppard says it exceeds $103 million. 

“Now what that means is not well next year we can expect an additional $104 million a year,” Sheppard says. “When we evaluate economic impact like this most of the time what we are doing is a sort of mental experiment.”

Sheppard says it just goes to show the venue’s importance to the Berkshires’ art-dominated economy.

“We can ask questions like: if we imagine Tanglewood not being here, how many fewer jobs would there be?”

Roughly 1,200 jobs.

The study found Tanglewood’s economic footprint represents a $40 million increase over a previous finding from 2008.

“One of the things that has happened is that people are staying longer. I think the economy is a little better now than what it was in that 2008-2009 period,” Volpe says.

According to the report, factors that led to the dramatic increase include a rise in the festival's overall attendance, the amount of time and money people spend per visit, and the growing perception of the Berkshires as a tourist destination.

“But the other thing is that we have been very consciously expanding the season. You know, there is still the core eight weeks that feature the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops, and of course the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center, but on both sides of that core eight weeks we start with popular artists in June and go through to early September,” Volpe says.

Sheppard says the venue’s impact is likely to balloon to $127 million once Tanglewood starts construction of a new four-building complex in 2019. It will house the Tanglewood learning center.

He says a larger report will be finished this summer with statewide data, too.

The summer season includes performances like “Jaws in Concert” and “Something Wonderful,” celebrating the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein by the Boston Pops, and Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald in June.

There’s also John Mellencamp, Natalie Merchant and James Taylor in July.

Opening night at Tanglewood features the Boston Symphony Orchestra on July 7th. Also scheduled: several performances with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in August. 

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