Topic: Miller College of Business

May 12, 2009

MUNCIE, Ind. – Cost-conscious Hoosiers may be staying closer to home during this recession to enjoy nearby museums, parks and zoos, but Indiana's multibillion dollar cultural tourism industry is still suffering, says a new report from Ball State University.

"Cultural Tourism in Indiana: The Impact and Clustering of the Arts and Creative Services in this Recession" provides a county-by-county analysis of the state's cultural activities. 

The recently completed report by Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) may be found in current studies and publications at

There are indications that state and local governments as well as endowments are significantly reducing much-needed financial support for the cultural sector, said Michael Hicks, CBER director who co-authored the study with Nalitra Thaiprasert, a Ball State research economist. 

"Indiana enjoys a wide variety of cultural tourism activity, but for many operations, we are at a critical financial standpoint," he said. "We have financially strapped communities shutting down swimming pools for the summer or museums being forced to reduce hours and staffing. This summer, we may have people wanting to do things, but there may be fewer options." 

Cultural tourism employs 43,000

The report finds that cultural tourism in Indiana, which includes county fairs, theater productions, artistic works, architecture, movies, festivals and museums, accounts for more than $4.9 billion in economic activity while employing more than 43,000 workers. 

Activities tied to cultural tourism generate more than $1.6 billion in value-added production and pay almost $43 million in business related taxes (sales, income, property and license fees) annually. 

The majority of Indiana's cultural attractions cluster in the state's two largest metropolitan areas of Indianapolis and the northwest counties stretching from Lake to Elkhart. Universities also play a significant role in the arts and creative sectors, with the top destinations located on or near college campuses. 

Not all gloom and doom

However, the report is not all gloom and doom, Hicks said, pointing out that historical data shows that traditional tourism — some of which is arts related — will suffer less than the economy as a whole because people will choose to travel a short distance, cutting their costs by not staying in hotels or motels. 

"Indiana's amusement parks and other similar activities are even less sensitive to changes in Hoosier incomes than in national incomes," he said. "This may mean that in-state tourists are even less influenced by overall economic conditions when choosing an amusement park than out-of-state visitors."

By Marc Ransford