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GRAHAMSTOWN SAYS “YES” (article first published : 2001-07-19)

Who are all those thousands of people who head for Grahamstown and the annual arts festival each year? A new demographic research project collected data in answer to this question during the recent festival held in Grahamstown – the last at which Standard Bank appeared as the title sponsor. The bank will continue its association with the festival as a niche sponsor of one of the major disciplines.

Rhodes economists Professor Geoff Antrobus and Jen Snowball were commissioned by the Grahamstown Foundation to complete a complex study. All venues were supplied with questionnaires and audiences were invited to supply relevant details to assist this research.

Paul Bannister is the top fund-raiser retained by Standard Bank to identify new sponsors for next year's Festival. He will use the results to create new partnerships between business and the festival.

“Scientific data about Festival audiences will help to convince other sponsors that they are reaching their target markets by becoming involved with the Festival,” said Professor Antrobus. "The arts are normally seen as being the pleasure of the wealthy, well-educated minority of society," added Jen Snowball. The two economists conducted the first formal research into the Festival in 1997 when they sought to establish the economic implications for the local community.

However, their research surprisingly showed that residents of Grahamstown East (the poorer part of town) valued the Festival more highly than their wealthier counterparts in the Western suburbs.

Although the average extra income earned per household in the East was only R224 compared to R791 in the West, East households retained 82% of this income (i.e. didn't spend it again at the Festival), while only 5,4% of the income earned was retained by West households.

This suggested that although East earnings are less, they form a much more important part of yearly income for these households than in the West.

Respondents were asked to agree or disagree with statements like: "The festival gives all the people of Grahamstown a sense of pride." A high 91,7% of East residents agreed, while only 65% of West residents did.

“Yes” was the answer of 97,2% of East respondents and only 89% of West to the question "The Festival should be kept going so that people or their children have the choice of attending in the future,"

A “willingness to pay” question was also included, to which a surprising 73,5% of East residents (given their budget constraints) and 81,3% of West residents said they'd be willing to pay an extra R5 in taxes per month to support the Festival.




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