Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences, Arts

Publication Details

Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events


When I wrote the 2010 article 'Arts Festivals, Urban Tourism and Cultural Policy' for the special issue of JPRTL&E in 2010, the focus on the ‘urban’ in the brief that I was given very much reflected the prominent attention being given to festivals and events in urban contexts at that time (Johansson & Kociatkiewicz, 2011; Stevens & Shin, 2012). I start this brief comment now by noting that this imbalance in the literature is being addressed by a recent rise of research interest in the arts, including festivals, in rural areas (including forthcoming special issues/sections in the Journal of Rural Studies and Sociologica Ruralis). This is a welcome development because festivals in rural areas, although associated with enhanced human and social capital (Wilks & Quinn, 2016), entrepreneurial activity (Pickernell, O’Sullivan, Senyard, & Keast, 2007), economic development and regeneration (Gibson & Connell, 2011), have been under-researched. Meanwhile, arts festivals also continue to proliferate in cities across and beyond developed economies (Slabbert & Vivier, 2013). They remain a mainstay of urban landscapes, and feature strongly in urban development, urban regeneration and urban tourism policies. While an extensive literature on festivals produced in many different disciplines conceives of festivals as very positive endeavours with a wealth of cultural, social and economic potential, the prevalent instrumental use of arts festivals in both urban and rural contexts continues to generate a range of contested reactions. Fundamentally, underpinning the critical perspectives in this literature are Harvey’s (2001) questions about whose aesthetics, whose collective memory, and whose interests are being served when arts festivals are harnessed, in a ‘creative cities’ paradigm, to further urban regeneration and development. Critical perspectives in festival and event studies addressing these kinds of questions have become more prevalent since 2010 (e.g. Finkel, 2010; McLean, 2018; Stevenson, 2016) and this has to be seen as a healthy development. In Lundberg, Armbrecht, Andersson, and Getz (2017), the question of value (all kinds of value) is placed centre stage and scrutinised with the aid of a framework produced by Andersson, Armbrecht, and Lundberg (2012). This distinguishes between both intrinsic and extrinsic values and individual and societal values, and is helpful in trying to analyse and understand the very important question of who derives benefits from festivals.