Report estimates more than $6 million to flow into Benalla's economy through art covering walls

Licking their lips: Benalla Council is rapt with the success of their mural-centred Wall to Wall Festival after the results of an economic analysis.
Licking their lips: Benalla Council is rapt with the success of their mural-centred Wall to Wall Festival after the results of an economic analysis.

MURALS gracing otherwise plain drab walls are tipped to generate an estimated $6.3 million for Benalla.

The figure is contained in economic data ordered by Benalla Council for the city’s Wall to Wall Festival.

Quantum Market Research found that $418,232 was spawned by the festival in April and $4,228,562 would be generated over the following 11 months with visitors coming to look at the murals.

“Taking both festival and post-festival economic impact into account, then, results in an estimated annual total expenditure of $4.527 million by visitors coming specifically to Benalla to see the street art, equating to a total economic impact of $6.338 million over the year,” Quantum reported.

The findings have delighted festival initiator Shaun Hossack who challenged Benalla to become Victoria’s street art capital at a business breakfast in 2014.

“To see it written down like that was pretty incredible and it was a good thing the council commissioned that report,” Mr Hossack said.

“You can have as much anecdotal evidence as you like, but when you have the numbers like that for spending and accommodation it really proves how good it is.”

This year’s festival was the third with Mr Hossack saying it was run on the “smell of an oily rag” with artists cutting 90 per cent off their commercial rates and grants from Victorian and federal governments covering costs.

More than 30 new murals were added to walls across Benalla this year with artists coming from across the world.

Quantum’s research was based on 232 surveys done during the festival and another 154 over the four months after the event.

The average age of those attending the festival was 46 with 85 per cent of respondents having come to Benalla specifically for the art.

Mr Hossack, who has been involved in creating the silo art trail in the Wimmera-Mallee, said he expects murals to continue to emerge in regional centres.

“I’m not sure whether they’re going to have their own festival, but I’m sure they’ll have their own street art,” he said.