Church Concerts Programme — Worth €250,000 to Killarney

The Concerts Programme at St Mary’s (Church of Ireland) Killarney – the Church of the Sloes – has been running for more than 10 years and has grown substantially. This year some 50 concerts took place, raising about €25,000 for the Church’s Restoration Fund. An analysis of the benefits to the wider community has recently been completed. It shows that 10x that amount is brought into the town. This year the Town benefitted from the Church’s activity to the tune of a quarter of a million euros.
When the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce launched a report on the economic benefit of tourism to the town it occurred to our Rector that there must be some kind of economic benefit to the town of our concerts. Not only do our visiting choirs seek accommodation here in Killarney, but they also are on holiday and so want to take coach tours and make visits to our iconic landmark locations and venues. To discover what that benefit might be we liaised with our main Tour Operators and asked them to identify the costs of buying resources and support services in Killarney.
It turns out that the average worth to Killarney of a concert in our church is €5,000. This is on top of the €500 the church gets in fees and donations. Therefore in 2018, with 50 concerts, the town has benefitted by more than €250,000 of additional income. (Over the past ten years, allowing for growth, that could be in excess of €2m.)
This has happened due to the quality of our product. When the Concerts Programme was first envisaged it was aimed at raising much needed money to keep the church going. Over the years, Tour Operators have come to know that our Church and Killarney are a very special place to send their visiting choirs and orchestras on tour from North America and Europe. The Church’s acoustics are very highly regarding by performers; its beauty and its situation are unique selling points. Our members volunteer their time and effort in stewarding the concerts. We work hard to make it a very special event for the visiting performers, putting in a lot of effort in the quality of venue and the events. This is paying off. We have become a sought-after venue and often receive more bookings that our volunteers can handle. In July this year we had 17 concerts, equivalent to one every other day of the month.
The Church is delighted to be able to support the community that supports it. The Rector of Killarney, Archdeacon Simon J Lumby said “we were both surprised and delighted when we saw the figures.” When asked about the importance of this to the Church, he said, “It’s great that the Church is able to lift the economic wellbeing of the community; it’s a part of our spiritual task of ‘loving our neighbour’. We are especially delighted for our hotel sector and local tour operators who see the benefit of this uplift. The Town shows its support to us; we remember gratefully the superb community effort to restore the Church Railings”. He added, “The effort to run these concerts demand a lot of our small congregation, so we are always looking to add volunteers to our Stewarding Rota; it takes three people to maintain the safety and comfort of visitors at a concert.” The Church will welcome any offers of help in this regard so that they can accept more concert bookings in the coming years and continue to grow this worthwhile enterprise, not just for the social benefit and leisure of locals and visitors alike, but also for the economic value it represents to our fabulous Town of Killarney.
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