You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing for the past week and a bit.
The answer is: reading about festivals and interviewing festival directors! So far I’ve spoken to some wonderful people, indeed even a personal heroine of mine in former Melbourne International Arts Festival Artistic Director, Kristy Edmunds.
But enough of that: on to the liteature. I’m not going to do a whole bunch of analysis her, just hrow a bunch of links and quic k summaries at you. Here goes …
1: Bruno Frey’s work on arts festivals. Frey is one of the better-known cultural economists working internationally, and his book Arts and Economics: Analysis and Cultural Policy (Springer: 2003) contains a chapter devoted to festivals economics. Frey’s big idea, if I could be so vulgar as to boil it down to this (but hey, it’s a blog) is that arts festivals have enabled many arts organisaitons to escape William Baumol’s dreaded ‘cost disease’ by allowing them to expand production and improve their productivity.
2: Richard Prentice and Vivien Anderson’s “Festival as Creative Destination.” A 2003 scholarly article published in Annals of Tourism Research 30(1): 7-30, this article examines Edinburgh’s many clustered festivals and contrasts Edinburgh’s “success in attracting audiences for the performing arts contrasts with the limited extent it appears to modify the general image of Scotland among its tourists.”
3. Also informed by the Edinburgh experience is the work of Martin Robertson, formerly of the Centre for Festival and Event Management at Napier University. Robertson and co-authors Jack Carlsen and Jane Ali-Knight has come up with a “research agenda” for researching festivals called “ACCESS.” ACCESS is a 6-dimensional research matrix which looks at for Arts, Culture, Community, Economy, Society and Stakeholders. This is valuable, but the solid gold is his first-authored paper (with Phil Rogers and Anna Leask) “Progressing socio-cultural impact evaluation for festivals“, published this year in the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events [2009: Vol 1(2): 1566-169].
This paper is based on a brilliantly comprehensive review of the secondary literature on festivals and is, therefore, one of the best places to start for industry professionals and academics looking to get a better idea of this field. But wait! There’s more! Robertson and his co-authors also surveyed 60 festival directors on the range of likely impacts to their festivals, including things like impact on local residents and the community, funding, community pride and participation, and so on.
Perhaps the most interesting point from a policy perspective was this intriguing sentence in the paper’s discussion, “the gorwing literature in the area of cultural capital has had very little influence on measuring management practice for festivals. ” Robertson suggests that directors are perhaps more interested in pragmatic outcomes like brokering outcomes for artists and performers, and, although I am paraphrasing here, bums on seats.
TOMORROW: Even more festivals literature!