ASU students examine economic impact of local Chihuly exhibition

December 3, 2014

In fall 2013 the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix followed up on its record-setting exhibition with Chihuly in the Garden, bringing the renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, back for a second time. His stunning creations complemented the garden’s vast desert landscape and attracted visitors from the local community and around the world.

But did the effect of the exhibition go beyond the garden? A group of doctoral students in the School of Community Resources and Development, part of the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University, sought to understand the economic impact of the exhibition as part of a fieldwork project. Chihuly in the Garden Download Full Image

The results of their work show significant impact on the region – both economic and quality of life.

More than 630,000 people attended Chihuly in the Garden. It is estimated that about 30,000 were from out of town and cited the exhibition as a major factor in their decision to visit Phoenix.

Attendees spent over $22 million while visiting Phoenix. Their expenditures created over 365 jobs, $13 million in income, a $21 increase in gross regional product and $2 million in state and local tax revenue.

Garden director, Ken Schutz, noted, “We knew that the Chihuly in the Garden would have a very positive effect on the garden’s finances. But it was especially rewarding to learn from the ASU study the magnitude of the positive impact on the broader community. What we did at the garden actually created a $22 million economic 'ripple' that reverberated throughout our entire community. More and more, people are coming to see arts and culture as an economic engine – one that simultaneously increases the quality of life in our community, and which adds greatly to the vitality of the local economy.”

The students surveyed attendees over 14 randomly selected days during the exhibition. Data collected was analyzed using IMPLAN modeling software.

“We want to quantify the importance of the arts in economic and community development,” says Kathleen Andereck, director of the School of Community Resources and Development. “Investments in these types of exhibitions bring not only financial gains through tourism, but economic and quality of life improvement for residents.”

Part of the school’s tourism development research looks at different ways in which communities can be improved. Partnerships like the ASU-Desert Botanical Garden collaboration give students hands-on research experience – while simultaneously helping local organizations measure their efforts.

“The Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) project allowed me the unique opportunity to work in a team environment with my peers and faculty to get hands on experience in developing and executing a full research study,” says Tiffanie Ord, who is pursuing a doctorate in community resources and development. “It is through my engagement with this project that I gained deeper knowledge in the areas of developing a survey instrument, collecting surveys in the field, working with data in SPSS, conducting a photo analysis from a social media website and presenting final project results to the DBG team. I appreciate the time spent by the (school's) faculty in mentoring us and managing this study, as well as the efforts of the DBG team to make the study a positive and successful experience for all involved.”

The Chihuly in the Garden exhibition was made possible by funding from Chase, JP Morgan and APS. It ran from Nov. 10, 2013 through May 18, 2014.

A “Phoenix Point of Pride,” the Desert Botanical Garden is one of only a few botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. It is a privately funded, non-profit organization and depends on revenues from admissions and gift shop sales, as well as contributions from individuals and businesses to fund its programs of environmental education, plant conservation and research. For more information on the Desert Botanical Garden, visit

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


ASU wellness technologies project to be featured at global health summit

December 3, 2014

An ambitious Arizona State University project to validate health and wellness technologies in the clinic will be featured at the main stage of the world’s largest mobile health event, the mHealth Summit.

On Dec. 10 the ASU-led Project HoneyBee will be featured in a highly interactive panel, “Validating Clinical Data to Reinvent Medicine,”  to explore how health systems can leverage the promise of continuous physiological measurement to pinpoint the transition from health to disease in order to improve outcomes and lower costs. portrait of ASU professor Michael Birt Download Full Image

Confirmed panelists at the HoneyBee event include Bryan Sivak, chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Michael Painter, senior program officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Teri Pipe, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU; Jim Levine, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, Arizona, and director of Obesity Solutions for the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University; and Dan Dixon, vice president and chief community engagement officer for Providence Health and Services.

Michael Birt, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute's Center for Sustainable Health will moderate the discussion.

“With our ever-increasing and graying population, there is an enormous revolution in health care now possible that will empower the patient in their home environment through wearable, mobile devices and sensors,” said Birt. “But these devices need to be validated so that they're useful in the clinic.”

Wearable health and wellness devices are an emerging industry. A new IDC Health Insights report forecasts that U.S. clinical mobility spending will reach $5.4 billion by 2016, representing a 12.7 percent compound annual growth rate between 2011 and 2016.

There is also a tremendous movement to use wearable technology to improve clinical outcomes. Chief scientist for the Center for Sustainable Health and Nobel Laureate Leland Hartwell estimates that when a patient is sent home from the hospital, roughly 15 to 20 percent of them return within 30 days. “And roughly 40 percent come back within six months, regardless of the original diagnosis. It’s pretty universal.”

To date, the Center for Sustainable Health has launched eight Observational Clinical Trials within Project HoneyBee, partnering with various local and national health care systems, including Mayo Clinic, Banner Health, Barrow Neurological Institute, Dignity Health, John C. Lincoln Hospital and Scottsdale Healthcare. The trials are designed to test the utility of commercial wearable devices for monitoring ambulatory patients, and are set to double next year.

Disease areas include heart disease, COPD, atrial fibrillation, patient mobility, gait monitoring in hydrocephalus and feasibility in diabetes patients. Each trial is specifically focused on validating wearable biosensors in a clinical population.

Validation of wearables will continue to be guided by clinical and economic drivers and analysis within the health care systems where they will be implemented. Importantly, the Project HoneyBee validation process is disease, device and outcome-agnostic, particularly one that can handle the large variety of devices for clinical settings.

A pivotal role will also be played by the private sector, both for companies developing biosensor technologies and those companies seeking to improve employee health and their own fiscal health through low-cost but highly effective technologies.

The panel discussion takes place from 9:20 to 10:20 a.m., Dec 10, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center’s Potomac Ballroom in National Harbor, Maryland.

Media contact:

Grace O’Sullivan
office: (480) 965-0450, cell: (480) 452-8399
Director, Strategic Partnerships, Center for Sustainable Health
Biodesign Institute

Joe Caspermeyer

Manager (natural sciences), Media Relations & Strategic Communications