Savannah Music Festival’s 2023 season featured record box office results.
The 2023 Savannah Music Festival (SMF), which took place from March 23 through April 8, enjoyed record box office sales, with 24,813 patrons attending the festival from across the U.S. and 14 countries around the world. The Savannah Music Festival presented 61 concerts featuring 96 live performances by top regional, national and international artists over a 17-day period. Over the course of the 2023 fiscal year, the Savannah Music Festival produced 122 live performances through the festival, off-season and educational programs.
According to a 2023 Savannah Music Festival Audience Survey of 1,635 attendees conducted by John Salazar, Ph.D. and Ryan Beetham at the University of Georgia’s School of Hospitality and Food Industry Management, 42 percent of the audience came from out of town to celebrate a confluence of American and global musicians, emerging and master jazz artists and classical artists, with “discovery” and “collaboration” as primary motivators.
Visitors from outside the Savannah area stayed an average of 4.1 nights, which is higher than the historical average.
Notably, 66 percent of 2023 Savannah Music Festival patrons were repeat attendees, with 42 percent attending the festival in 2022.
“Last year, some audience members still had pandemic-related concerns, but the overall spirit of the festival was noticeably more upbeat in 2023,” says Savannah Music Festival Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford. “This year, many of our performances sold out and the majority of our shows were packed. Audience members were eager to enjoy live music at historic venues throughout downtown Savannah and to see featured artists from across the country and around the world.”
The nonprofit organization also generated a significant economic impact during the 2023 festival, including $6 million in visitor spending and $8.6 million in direct spending.
“The effects of cultural tourism are proven, but of more importance is the community of artists, locals, visitors, supporters, volunteers, crew and partners that creates the festival experience,” explains Savannah Music Festival Artistic Director Ryan McMaken. “Savannah provides an extraordinary backdrop for this unique multi-genre international music festival.”
Forbes said the “Savannah Music Festival will be at the top of music lovers’ lists in the coming years.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the Savannah Music Festival “one of the Southeast’s most approachable festivals,” adding: “It is this kind of experimental but intuitive programming that gives the Savannah fest its improvisational gusto.”
In 2023, SMF’s newly launched Explorer Pass program.
It offered free admission to SMF concerts to more than 400 Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools students and family members. Forty-seven student ambassadors from five local high schools helped get the word out about the new Explorer Pass program.
“Our inaugural Explorer Pass program was extremely successful in expanding access to live music performances to young people throughout the community,” says Savannah Music Festival Senior Director of Community Impact Jenny Woodruff. “It was wonderful to see families who might not otherwise be able to attend the festival enjoying a wide range of SMF concerts.”
SMF Jazz Academy student musicians also celebrated another successful year with the annual spring concert, featuring performances by six student ensembles and three original student compositions.
ABOUT SAVANNAH MUSIC FESTIVAL:
A leading nonprofit performing arts organization, Savannah Music Festival (SMF) presents world-class celebrations of the musical arts by creating timeless and adventurous productions that stimulate arts education, foster economic growth and unite artists and audiences in Savannah. In addition to year-round music education and broadcast initiatives, SMF has produced one of the world’s most distinctive multi-genre music festivals for more than three decades. The 2024 Savannah Music Festival will take place March 28 through April 12. For more information, visit savannahmusicfestival.org.