LENOX

Hotels and boarding houses in Berkshire County were compiling waiting lists for guests. Box seats for the entire season at The Shed, which cost $150 each, were completely sold out.

The year was 1938. The country was struggling to pull itself out of the Great Depression, but Tanglewood -- the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home -- already was having an impact on the Berkshires economy.

Not much has changed. Tanglewood impacted the local economy then, and it still does now.

The total economic impact of Tanglewood on Berkshire County is $60.6 million, according to a study on the BSO conducted in 2008 by the Center for Community Development (C3D) in North Adams.

More than half of that sum, $37.2 million, results from direct economic impacts, while $11.5 million is from indirect ones. The remaining $11.85 million comes from induced economic activity, which occurs when households in the Berkshires spend the increased income that results from those direct and indirect economic impacts.

"The study suggested that Tanglewood is a very major player in the Berkshire economy," said Williams College economics professor Stephen C. Sheppard, who runs C3D. "It's got one of the largest, if not the very largest, budget of any arts and cultural organization in the county. And it brings a lot of people to the county, over 300,000 visitors a year. That makes a huge difference."

The study was based on figures from fiscal 2006, which occurred before the recession hit.


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According to Tan glewood's tax returns, expenses exceeded revenues by $10 million in 2009, a year in which 11 inches of rain fell in July (2009 is the most recent year tax forms are available). BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe said 27 of Tanglewood's 31 dates that year were affected by the weather.

"That was a tough summer," Volpe said.

But Tanglewood still finished the year with $396 million in assets, an increase of $13 million over 2008. A bad summer aside, Sheppard said he believes there hasn't been a significant dropoff in economic activity generated by Tanglewood in the past four years.

"My belief is that the data hasn't changed much," he said.

According to the 2008 study, visitors to Tanglewood spent $24.5 million in the Berkshires, with the greatest impact occurring in the lodging, food, retail and real estate sectors. According to Sheppard, 208 of the more than 400 industrial sectors in the Berkshires receive some form of economic impact from Tanglewood, an interesting statistic considering the study found that 97 percent of the visitors there live outside of Berkshire County.

Several county firms have business relationships with Tanglewood. Quality Printing of Pittsfield began publishing guidebooks for the venue in 2004, and has published its annual report since 2009.

Tanglewood straddles the Lenox-Stockbridge town line. Because of Tanglewood's status as a nonprofit, neither town receives property-tax revenue from the BSO's summer home. The BSO also provided $24,000 to Stockbridge and about $12,000 to Lenox through the state's Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program until roughly the past 10 years.However, both towns benefit economically in other ways.

Tanglewood straddles the Lenox-Stockbridge town line. Because of Tanglewood's status as a nonprofit, neither town receives property-tax revenue from the BSO's summer home. The BSO also provided $24,000 to Stockbridge and about $12,000 to Lenox through the state's Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program until roughly the past 10 years.However, both towns benefit economically in other ways.

In Lenox, Town Manager Gregory Federspiel said he believes a significant chunk of the $500,000 that the town receives in lodging and meals taxes each summer comes from Tanglewood visitors.

"I can't break it down in concrete numbers," he said, "but in July and August that's why the majority of people are in town. They contribute significantly to our economic well-being."

In Stockbridge, where more than half the residences are owned by second home owners, Select Board member Deb orah McMenamy said Tanglewood visitors contribute room-tax revenue, while the town itself receives funds through licensing fees and building permits.

"Stockbridge has a lot of nonprofit organizations," she said. "Tanglewood is the largest one. More people come to town when Tanglewood is on than when they're not, so I guess we have to give them credit for bringing in a lot of people in a short period of time."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @tonydobrow