Grassroots Festivals and Place Making
The papers in this EBook are another valuable contribution to the examination of festivals and events beyond their economic and business application and benefits. It further explores the close link festivals have with the communities that support and engage with them and further emphasises the value and importance of the places where they are delivered. This sense of place and community involvement is a key driver in critical event studies. The role that events and festivals (from sporting mega-events to annual arts festivals) play in place branding has been well documented. Further, the role of event-led policy in shaping urban regeneration strategies making has also received widespread attention. However, as Richards suggests, we are seeing a shift in the understanding of the value of events from a branding function to a more holistic placemaking function. Indeed, de Brito and Richards acknowledge the tensions between bottom-up placemaking process that originate in communities and, more top-down, state-led interventions using major events.
By extension, there remains a lack of attention paid to grassroots festivity as contributing to, or functioning as, placemaking. The role that festivals play in communities has predominantly been explored in relation to the impacts on the communities themselves. There has been emerging work in the role of social capital in music festivals specifically and the involvement of communities in the planning and running of events. Indeed, Clarke and Jepson comment that, ‘to be successful community festivals must ensure that the community is central to all cultural production processes and that the communities’ cultures are evident throughout the festival’. The anthropological foundation of the study of festivity has always placed an emphasis on the importance of place and identities and the need to further examine and critique to understand how places are shaped, through festivity, as liveable spaces in the 21st Century or, conversely, used as acts of resistance against place-making processes, is imperative. The papers in this special issue go some way to fill that gap.