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Herald-Tribune: Friday’s letters—Arts marketing works

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Visit Sarasota County and Visit Florida understand the value that arts and culture contributes to our community and give the Sarasota Opera the tools we need to operate our successful company.

We’re in our 58th season and are fortunate to be among the world’s most renowned opera companies. Part of this recognition comes from our talented performers and the positive publicity we receive from music critics across the globe.

One of our proudest accomplishments — being the only company in the world to produce every work composer Giuseppe Verdi had ever written — was amplified by Visit Sarasota County’s efforts in hosting esteemed music critics to cover our record-setting feat. The resulting media coverage was substantial and enhanced our reputation as a leading opera company.

Marketing efforts conducted by Visit Florida and Visit Sarasota County increase visitation to our state as a whole, which is crucial because visitors spend money.

In the last year, out-of-state tourists contributed 25 percent, or more than $750,000, to our total ticket sales. On average, these visitors spend $10 more on tickets than Florida residents.

Their business increases our revenue and allows us to enrich our Sarasota community through youth camps and other educational initiatives.

Arts and culture organizations like ours need tourism, and we need tourism-promotion agencies on the state and local level to continue attracting new and repeat visitors to the Sunshine State.

I urge legislators to consider the detrimental effects eliminating such agencies would have on the vibrant arts communities throughout Florida.

Richard Russell, executive director, Sarasota Opera

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