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Overture Center helps pump big bucks into downtown economy

Carto: "Overture is a real contributor to the vitality and quality of life for the entire region."
Carto: "Overture is a real contributor to the vitality and quality of life for the entire region."
Credit:Pete Olsen
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Just in time for its fifth anniversary celebration this weekend, the Overture Center for the Arts has received a special gift: fresh financial impact figures that show audiences pumping $9.8 million in related spending into the downtown economy annually.

Few will likely celebrate the numbers at Overture's free birthday party Saturday, Sept. 26, but they represent the realization of a goal set long before the center opened.

"Ten years ago, people predicted that Overture Center would become an economic engine for the community," says Tom Carto, Overture CEO and president. "Now we have proof that they were right."

The $9.8 million includes 2008 dining, parking and such, but does not include what was spent on tickets, associated fees and taxes. Overture itself and its resident companies spent another $27.6 million throughout Madison last year.

The economic impact numbers were released today by Overture officials. Other fiscal-year 2008 findings include:

Free and paid-admission Overture Center activities attracted 541,000 people. Of those, around 247,000 attended ticketed events. (Not all Overture activities occur on-site.)

Overture and its resident companies provided the equivalent of 1,471 area jobs, totaling nearly $26.4 million in household incomes.

The revenue generated for local government from Overture-related spending was more than $1.2 million; for state government, more than $2.8 million. The admissions tax revenue generated for state and county government was $446,800.

In the last five years, around 234,700 school children attended Overture Onstage performances during a school day, and more than 600,000 people attended an Overture community engagement or educational program.

Overture will release a large-scale economic impact study later this year. As far as Carto is concerned, however, the preliminary figures are reason to celebrate right now..

"Even in a slumping economy, Overture is a real contributor to the vitality and quality of life for the entire region," he says. "This community is seeing a real return on its investment."

Overture will celebrate the 5th anniversary of its opening from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, with free cake, free showcase performances, a costume dress-up for kids, VIP tours and a wine tasting. For information visit

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