Eventful Cities

Cultural management and urban revitalisation


  • Greg Richards, Partner, Tourism Research and Marketing, Spain; Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Leisure, Tourism and Society, University of the West of England, UK Department of Leisure Studies, Tilburg University
  • Robert Palmer, Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France

Processes of globalisation, economic restructuring and urban redevelopment have placed events at the centre of strategies for change in cities. Events offer the potential to achieve economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes within broader urban development strategies.
This volume:
* Analyses the process of cultural event development, management and marketing and links these processes to their wider cultural, social and economic context
* Provides a unique blend of practical and academic analysis, with a selection of major   events and   festivals in cities where ‘eventfulness’ has been an important element of development strategy
* Examines the reasons why different stakeholders should collaborate, as well as the reasons why cities succeed or fail to develop events and become eventful
Eventful Cities: cultural management and urban revitalisation evaluates theoretical perspectives and links theory and practice through case studies of cities and events across the world.  Critical success factors are identified which can help to guide cities and regions to develop event strategies.  This book is essential reading for any undergraduate or graduate student and all practitioners and policy-makers involved in event management, cultural management, arts administration, urban studies, cultural studies and tourism.

N.B. Cover image credit: "Zinneke Parade 2006 picture by Bram Goots"


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Levels 2 & 3: undergrad/postgrad students in event management; cultural management; arts administration; urban studies; cultural studies & tourism/ Practitioners involved in the organisation and management of events: local authority officers; festival managers; development agencies; tourist boards/bodies responsible for cultural and economic regeneration strategies and projects.


Book information

  • Published: April 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-7506-6987-0

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Creating the events platformThe introductory chapter deals with the culturisation and festivalisation of the city. Against a background of increasing interurban competition, cities across the globe are searching for new means to project an attractive image to the outside world and to improve the quality of life of existing and future residents. Culture has acquired an increasingly important role in such developments, because it is seen as a source of images, icons and income. This chapter therefore covers wider contexts of urban development and cultural policy, such as:• The city as stage – the emergence of the experience economy• Processes of festivalisation• Processes of creativity• Symbolic consumption and the growing importance of image• Culture and the creative industries as sources of employment and urban revitalisationChapter 2: The event conceptWhere do cities, policy makers or developers find the inspiration for cultural events?Although the classic definition of a festival is a celebration, the choice of what should be celebrated, where and when is of crucial importance. The growth of cultural events is examined in the context of urban environments. In particular the importance of supply-related and demand-related factors is examined. Very often, the justification for staging events is found in growing demand or audiences for culture. However, in other instances, the event emerges as a result of vision of one or a group of individuals.This chapter presents a number of case studies of event concept development, and shows how the role of inspirational figures, political considerations, economic and social factors interact to provide the basic ‘excuse’ for event development. Chapter 3: Making the dream a realityHaving found an event to celebrate, the initial phase of nurturing the idea is crucial. The process of initial event development is described through the use of case studies, including the ECOC event.- Source of inspiration - History of development of cultural capital, themes- Changing motivations - Replacement of culture as a primary motive for cultural events.- Governance and Organisation- Event structure, programme design- Finance and Funding Chapter 4: Event programming: narratives and audiencesThe growth of the experience economy underlines the central being taken by narrative in the economic and cultural sectors. The ability to develop a coherent experience with a narrative or theme related to the interests and needs of different audiences is now of crucial importance.In cities, cultural policy is increasingly being supplemented or replaced by processes of cultural programming. Programming not only places the emphasis on the role of the city as stage or backdrop for a series of events, but changes the role of the public sector from the supplier of events into that of programme coordinator. In order to communicate the new complexity of cultural programming to potential audiences, cultural and event managers increasingly need to think in terms of themes which will help to increase the ‘readability’ of the programme as well as increasing identification of the different audiences with the programme.This chapter deals with issues of programming and analysis of audience needs, and examines the role of cultural events in wider cultural policy terms (social cohesion, community arts, etc). It also analyses existing ‘formulae’ used by festivals in making choices about which activities and projects to promote and produce.Chapter 5: Gathering support: Stakeholder communitiesIn an increasingly complex environment, staging an event always involves a wide network of stakeholders and actors. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from stakeholder theory and network theory, this chapter analyses issues of collaboration, partnership and coordination in bringing an event to fruition. The importance of winning and maintaining political support, managing stakeholders and raising finance are examined through examples from the ECOC and other cultural events. The role of the private sector, and balancing private and public sector interests will be considered.Chapter 6: Event managementThis chapter considers the management of the event, looking at the relationship between strategic and tactical management issues, the need for crisis management and the functioning of management and information systems.The way in which relationships develop between the event and its public(s) over time is also considered, touching on issues of quality management and feedback systems.Chapter 7: Event marketingAn event is only an event if people turn up. The design and distribution of information, marketing planning and marketing communications are therefore crucial for success. This chapter looks at the marketing and promotion of cultural events, both as events in their own right, and their wider role in creating an image for a city or region. The issue of branding events is also analysed, particularly from the perspective of competing brands for the event venue and the event itself. Chapter 8: Event impactEvents are increasingly designed to deliver a complex range of cultural, social, economic impacts. In most cases, the estimation of impacts prior to staging the event is also an important part of ensuring that the event is staged. Impact assessments are therefore being used as tools for lobbying, as well as for directing policy and leaning from events. The concept of the ‘triple bottom line’ often applied to event impact analysis is examined both in terms of theory and practice.This chapter looks at the uses and abuses of impact assessment for cultural events, drawing on a number of studies completed for successful and unsuccessful event bids. The claims made by event organisers are also compared with the actual achievement of those events. The advantages and disadvantages of different assessment techniques are outlined with reference to specific impact studies. This chapter will draw on studies made by the authors at different cultural events, and suggest practical methodologies that should be considered in the evaluation of events.Chapter 9: Event sustainabilityOne of the major issues in the decision to stage and event, and in the way in which an event is designed and managed, is the long-term sustainability of the programme. In view of the large investments often made in events (both in terms of money and time), it is important to ensure that the spin-off is sustained in the years following the event as well. However, events suffer from particular problems of sustainability, as ephemera. The organisation is often dismantled soon after the event ends, or only skeleton staffs are retained in the case of large annual events. It is often hard to retain the ‘collective memory’ of the event, which usually resides in the heads of the event managers. This chapter therefore considers ways in which sustainability can be achieved, given the unique context of events. In particular, attention is paid to the business of building networks to carry on the projects initiated by the event. The legacy of events is considered not only from the perspective of consensus-building, but also the potential for conflict.The positioning of cultural events in urban policy is analysed, and different ‘models’ are compared in terms of sustainability. In particular, the problem of repeating a successful event is examined, and the need for innovation in programming, management and marketing is underlined. The tendency towards ‘cultural isomorphism’ is highlighted in the case of events that are utilised as part of urban redevelopment strategies, and solutions to the problem are outlined.Chapter 10: The event balancing actThe basic criterion for a successful event is whether the audience and its creators though it was worth doing. Without the willingness to repeat the experience, it is unlikely that events can survive. The role of cultural events as a potentially powerful tool for cultural development is outlined, looking at issues such as their role in confidence building for cities, their use as a catalyst for change and their function as an arena for self-reflection on the part of a city and its citizens.However, there can also be significant disadvantages that can cause a community to question the need for such events. The development of narratives of success and failure is examined with reference to a number of concrete examples, such as the Edinburgh Festival, the ECOC and the 2004 Barcelona Forum. This analysis will be based on interviews with key players in the organisation of these events.Chapter 11: Critical reflections: Keys to successMany people involved in organising events, including the event managers, urban planners and cultural policy makers, are interested in learning from their own experience and from other events, about the keys to success in event management. This chapter unfolds many of the key concepts which underpin successful events, drawing on the experience of the authors and the analysis of specific events:- Managing the myth- Identity before image- Start with culture- Embed the event in a broader cultural context- Involve the communityBased on current trends and forecasting, and examining the forces of globalisation, new technologies, the changing nature of entertainment and cultural consumption and generational shifts, the chapter will conclude with a discussion of what ‘the event of the future’ may look like, and the considerations and dangers that should be taken into account by cities and organisers embarking on future strategies.An appendix will suggest further reading on the subjects of the book and references to useful websites and other contacts.Chapter 12: The eventful city toolkitBased on an analysis of a number of cities, and the critical success factors outlined in Chapter 10, the authors will provide a hands-on guide to rating the ‘eventfulness’ of cities and/or regions. The toolkit will provide a number of examples related to the differing aims and contexts of events.