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  • KIA Exhibition 'Millet to Matisse' Brings $1.9 Million
    November 25, 2004 KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN.

    Vincent van Gogh. Portrait of Alexander Reid, 1887, oil on board, 420 x 300mm. Copyright Glasgow City Council (Museums).

    The exhibition “Millet to Matisse: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century French Painting from Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow” at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (May 22-August 15, 2004) brought both out-of-town visitors and significant economic activity to Kalamazoo, according to a recent study. The exhibition attracted 46,534 visitors, 47 percent of whom were local residents (living in Kalamazoo County), and 53 percent from outside of the county. Visitors came to the KIA from throughout Michigan (Ada to Zeeland), as well as 40 other states and more than 20 countries. Total visitor spending during the exhibition was $1.9 million, of which 32 percent ($600,000) accrued to the KIA and 68 percent ($1.3 million) went to local businesses. Visitor spending in the community, including direct and secondary effects, yielded $463,000 in personal income (wages and salaries) to area residents and supported 25 jobs. The exhibition generated about 1,500 room nights in area hotels.

    Impacts were estimated using the Michigan Tourism Economic Impact Model (MITEIM). The MITEIM model estimates visitor spending as the number of visitor parties times an average spending per party, then applies this spending to a model of the local economy to estimate the resulting sales, income and jobs in the region, including direct and secondary effects.

    KIA staff and volunteers surveyed 500 visitors at random during the exhibition, and segmented them by residents, day trippers and overnight visitors. Of those who came from out of town, 80 percent indicated that attending the exhibition was the primary reason for their trip to Kalamazoo. This was the first visit to the KIA for more than half (51 percent) of visitors. A number of local businesses offered less formal evidence of the economic impact of the exhibition. The Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites offered free tickets to “Millet to Matisse” as a part of a room package, and made nearly $5,000 from the program. “We consider our collaboration with the exhibition a success,” said Dawn Doty, rooms revenue manager. “We’re definitely interested in future collaborations.”

    The Millennium Restaurant Group also offered complimentary tickets to the exhibition at its locations. “I was surprised to see the positive impact the exhibition had on my business levels,” said Shelly Pastor, managing partner for MRG. “I hosted tour groups, planned ladies luncheons and catered French-themed parties, all because of Millet to Matisse,” she said. “We experienced a 15 to 20 percent increase in revenue in the third quarter this year.”

    Julie Stanley, owner of Food Dance Cafe, said the restaurant had its best July ever, thanks in part to the exhibition. In June, Food Dance hosted a wine-tasting event with a “Millet to Matisse” theme.

    The New Vic Theatre offered a production of “Vincent,” the one-man play about the life of Vincent van Gogh. Patrons enjoyed discounted tickets when attending both “Vincent” at the New Vic and “Millet to Matisse” at the KIA. “We were pleased and surprised with the response,” said Mary Jo Kistler. “We’re thinking of collaborating again with the KIA.”

    The KIA collaborated with a number of other area cultural and tourism organizations to create French-themed events. Downtown Kalamazoo, Inc. presented a Bastille Day Celebration in Bronson Park, and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum hosted a film series called “Gifts of the French.” In addition, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Fontana Chamber Arts Society and Kalamazoo Singers all performed 19th- and 20th-century French music at the KIA.

    “Millet to Matisse” was the third ticketed exhibition in the 80-year history of the KIA. The next will be an architectural (large-scale) show of works by glass artist Dale Chihuly, which opens September 25, 2005.

    The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts is a non-profit institution, governed by a board elected by KIA members. Its mission is to offer to the residents of Kalamazoo County and West Michigan quality visual arts, educational programs and services that encourage the creation and appreciation of art.