Expenditure on wages, payments to local suppliers and the spending habits of visiting artists and audiences have all contributed to an economic impact valued at £16.2m to the East Sussex economy.

Country estate opera venue

matthew_in_ham via Creative Commons (cc by-nc 2.0)

With an annual turnover of £25m and employing 150 year-round staff, Glyndebourne also funds employment for a further 1,500 people over a year, including seasonal staff, production staff, and artists. A new independent report, 'The Economic Impact of Glyndebourne', also reveals that the opera house generates a gross economic impact of £16.2m in East Sussex which translates into a Gross Value Added impact of £10.8m.

£3m is paid in wages to employees living in East Sussex, £1m is spent with suppliers based in its home town of Lewes, and a further £300k goes to suppliers in the rest of East Sussex. Local businesses that work with Glyndebourne say that their association with the company has generated revenue, prestige and visitor footfall. Glyndebourne has inserted a new line into its procurement policy committing to sourcing local suppliers first where possible. This reinforces an existing commitment to considering Glyndebourne’s environmental policy when procuring goods and services, which was already leading the company to favour local businesses.

Glyndebourne is found to enjoy a large, loyal and relatively high-spending audience which makes up the largest contributor to its economic impact. The annual Glyndebourne Festival in drew an audience of 98k in 2013 and the findings reveal them to be a high value group who would not otherwise visit the area. David Pickard, General Director of Glyndebourne, said: “Our location here in East Sussex is a big part of what makes Glyndebourne so special for audiences, staff and visiting artists alike. We’re very proud that the company makes such a significant contribution to the local economy and to the reputation of the area as a cultural destination, and look forward to exploring closer partnerships with both local businesses and East Sussex County Council.” 

The research was commissioned by Glyndebourne and East Sussex County Council, and aimed to understand how economic value is created. It will inform a plan for maximizing that value and underpin the East Sussex Cultural Strategy. A survey of over 3,000 audience members was at the heart of the research, together with an analysis of the money paid to locally-based staff and suppliers, money spent by visiting artists, interviews with senior managers within all stakeholder organisations, and interviews with 19 businesses and artists based around Lewes who work with Glyndebourne or benefit from its presence. Rupert Clubb, Director for Communities, Economy and Transport at the local authority, said: “East Sussex County Council is aware that we have a county with an extraordinarily high quality cultural offer. We recognise that we are fortunate to have Glyndebourne as a highlight of our cultural destinations. This study demonstrates its value both as an employer, a part of our tourism offer and also in terms of the contribution Glyndebourne makes to the local community.” 

Elizabeth Hunt