BSO Touts Economic Impact

Apr 9, 2018

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has released a report detailing its economic impact on Massachusetts.

It’s been a decade of expansion for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which spends each summer at Tanglewood in Lenox. 

“We commission a third party, Steven Shepard, who’s a professor actually in Berkshire County, at Williams College, professor of economics of course, and we asked him, given the incredibly significant increase in activity, not just at Tanglewood but also with us taking over the Boston Pops Fourth Of July spectacular, and wanted to get a sense of impact across the commonwealth," said Mark Volpe, Managing Director of the BSO. “We were pleasantly surprised to see that our impact now exceeds over $261 million dollars, which is a pretty big increase since the last time we did this 10 years ago.”

A hefty slice of that increase lands in local pockets.

“Of that $261 million, over a $100 million of it is in Berkshire County,” said Volpe. 

“It’s the golden goose," said Democratic State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. "There’s no question in my mind about that. Has been for a long time. It’s been the core of our cultural revival here in the Berkshires. It’s the 800-pound gorilla. Whatever analogy you want to come up with, that’s what it is.”

In the wake of more traditional industry like General Electric vacating the Berkshires, Pignatelli says the creative economy is more important than ever.

“What I see lately, in the last five or 10 years, is the infusion of development of world class hotels," said Pignatelli. "Canyon Ranch. The New Courtyard Marriott in Lenox. Cranwell is ready to spend $80 million to invest in that resort in Lenox as well. I think we’re seeing some huge benefits, MASS MoCA, the equivalent up in North Berkshire, we’re seeing a revival up in North Berkshire as well.”

Volpe says the concert venue attracts fans from near and far.

“We bring 350,000 people to Berkshire County every summer, that’s a county of a little over 100,000. Three times the population of the entire county experience Tanglewood,” said Volpe.

“Our challenge is – and has always been – how do we stretch out the season, how do we make it more of a year round vibrant economy," said Pignatelli. "I think Tanglewood is trying to do that, Shakespeare & Company is trying to do that, and I think we should be in a position to try and assist them in any way we can.”

Tanglewood is trying to do that. Eighty years after opening, the campus is undergoing some upgrades.

“Certainly the four buildings – we just put the final piece of steel up, so they’re coming along quite nicely. They open up in 2019, they’ll be the home of a new learning institute. Those are the first fully winterized buildings other than offices on Tanglewood campus," said Volpe. “We have the potential. Whether we do 12 months of programming or expand beyond 10, 11, 12 weeks we’re already there, I know we will be expanding our offerings and having activities in the leaf season and other activities. Whether we do 12 months or not obviously the market will, frankly, inform.”

Performances at Tanglewood start in June.