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Art Festivals and the European Public Culture

Final Report Summary - EURO-FESTIVAL (Art Festivals and the European Public Culture)

Executive Summary:

The EURO-FESTIVAL project was a three-year project running from 2008 to 2010. Its subject matter were artistic festivals and the latter's relation to the European public sphere, hence citizenship, politics and identity. The project was implemented by a consortium of three research organizations and was based on a set of thirteen case studies. The case studies concerned well-known European festivals in the genres of film, literature and music and included three mixed-arts urban festivals. The project's case studies were the Venice Biennale, Brighton Festival and Vienna Festival from among urban mixed-arts festivals; the Venice, Cannes and Berlin film festivals as well as the Jewish film festival; the Hay Festival, Berlin Literature Festival and Borderlands Festival from among literature festivals; and the Womad, Umbria Jazz and Sonar music festivals.

Project Context and Objectives:

The EURO-FESTIVAL project was a three-year project running from 2008 to 2010. Its subject matter were artistic festivals and the latter's relation to the European public sphere, hence citizenship, politics and identity. The project was implemented by a consortium of three research organizations and was based on a set of thirteen case studies. The case studies concerned well-known European festivals in the genres of film, literature and music and included three mixed-arts urban festivals. The project's case studies were the Venice Biennale, Brighton Festival and Vienna Festival from among urban mixed-arts festivals; the Venice, Cannes and Berlin film festivals as well as the Jewish film festival; the Hay Festival, Berlin Literature Festival and Borderlands Festival from among literature festivals; and the Womad, Umbria Jazz and Sonar music festivals.

Festivals represent specific cultural institutions linked to the idea of celebration. Their proliferation today is fuelled by spatial economic considerations (mainly at the urban level) as much as the increased competition within the cultural field. For cities festivals represent opportunities for increasing their visibility as attractive tourist destinations and for engaging in innovative cultural policy. Within the cultural field proper two partly competing trends are evident: the first is commercialization, the second internationalization. The latter supports experimentation through trans-national or 'translational' activities and networking.

Objectives and Methodology

Against the above background, the project's case studies were implemented as sociological inquiries into the institutional and social processes underpinning festival organization, reception and representation. In parallel we paid attention to the role of festivals for creating and transmitting particular aesthetics, politics and ideas through their 'texts' and actors.

In order to achieve its objectives, the EURO-FESTIVAL project was organized around four research components or work packages (WP). Following the specification of the research design, including of the various methodological tools (WP1), the project team embarked on historical analysis (WP2) and case study research (WP3). The last work package dealt with synthesis and comparison (WP4).

The Euro-Festival project has developed and implemented a comparative methodological approach for the study of arts festivals combining elements from the sociology of culture and cultural sociology. The former emphasizes organizational aspects related to the 'production' or 'input' side of culture; the latter concentrates on the 'outputs' or symbolic strategies of representation and performance. The project's overall theoretical framework and how this was used to contextualize specific sociological methodologies was presented in Deliverable D1.1.

Analytically our research has relied on the following methods:

Interviews with festival directors and sponsors as well as artists, journalists and other relevant stakeholders with detailed protocols and/or transcriptions for each; the number of interviews carried out per festival ranged from just under 10 to over 20, the differences in numbers reflecting mainly differences in festival size or scope but also interviewee availability. A total of 130 narrative interviews were carried out in the framework of the Euro-Festival research. Most interviews were carried out face-to-face, several on the phone and a few by e-mail. Next to the narrative interviewers, researchers engaged in numerous shorter informal discussions with audience and artists during their fieldworks-these too were written down for the purpose of the research.

Discourse and text analysis covering festival programmes and related documentation, official or unofficial reports on the festivals and their impacts, festival-specific publicity produced by the festival organizations or in the media, biographies of directors, sponsors and artists as well as media reports on the festivals. Media covered included mainly print and electronic and, to a lesser extent, audio-visuals.

Network and finances analysis-based on interviews with stakeholders and document reviews, an analysis of the networks impacting on the festivals under study was carried out; this included an analysis of the festivals' revenues and their composition.

Fieldwork observation-research teams participated in the 2009 festival editions and in some cases also either the 2008 or the 2010. In addition to reporting on the overall staging of the festival, they observed and took detailed notes of specific festival events selected according to a criterion list established at the project's beginning with reference to the study's theoretical dimensions. The observation covered aspects such as size and type of audience, reception of the performance and the discussions that followed (formal or informal). In the course of this research a lot of photographic material was collected, some of this was used for this report and in the blogs written on the various festival editions (and available on the project website). Like the event protocols, the photographs have been used as documentation material for further discourse analysis where relevant.

Audience-the Euro-Festival project organized a survey of participants using a standardized questionnaire in three of the festivals under study, namely the Berlin International Literature Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival and the Vienna Jewish Film Festival. In Umbria and in Vienna it was also possible to organize a focus group. A third focus group was held in Brighton. As anticipated already in the DoW, it was not possible to implement the survey and/or the focus group methodology in all festivals as this required the collaboration of festival organizers which was not always forthcoming in this specific way. Still, the audience information collected in conjunction with the fieldwork observations provided a good basis for an analysis of the audience and their attitudes to arts, culture and festivals.

The qualitative data collected by the project was processed using the MaxQDA software for qualitative analysis. A minimum set of common codes was used by all teams in order to facilitate comparisons. The quantitative survey data was analyzed using SPSS. The pooled datasets (both with MaxQDA and SPSS) were used for the in-depth comparative analysis.

The project's main findings are summarized below. The detailed findings can be read in the project's three topical deliverables: Deliverable 2.1 'European Arts Festivals from a Historical Perspective' reports on the historical development of festivals; Deliverable D3.1 'European Arts Festivals: Cultural Pragmatics and Discursive Identity Frames' presents detailed reports on each of the festivals under study and Deliverable D4.1 'European Arts Festivals: Creativity, Culture and Democracy' presents a synthesis of the results around a set of theoretical dimensions.

Project Results:

Arts Festivals in Historical Perspective

Museums, the theatre, the Opera-these were the sites for arts and culture in the 18th and 19th century, and even for most of the part of the 20th century. Today, this is no longer the case and festivals have much to do with this transformation, which is twofold: it signals a transformation of the 'arts' and, concurrently, a transformation of the traditional artistic institutions-both towards public culture. This transformation is rooted in more general societal changes, and, in turn, it is likely to impact on the wider public sphere and, in that, also on politics.

Arts festivals were often launched with the objective of sharing cultural knowledge (of a particular art field) in an environment of sociability. This quasi educational function of festivals was however only exceptionally explicit. The goal of 'educating' the masses, in accordance with humanistic ideals, thus contributing to democratization and the consolidation of a liberal society, was clear in the minds of the organizers of the first 'Vienna Musical and Theatre Festival' in 1924. It was more implicit in the conduct of the founders of the Hay or Berlin literature festivals or of Umbria Jazz, not least as a result of the discrediting of the traditional educational and cultural means of production (and re-production) in the course of the student revolts of the 1960s. This also points to the importance of innovation in the form and content of cultural mediation for festivals.

By reason of their emphasis on sociability, festivals entail a strong element of community- and identity-building. This was already the case of carnivals and feasts in earlier historical periods which were used as opportunities to reinvigorate feelings of solidarity and link these to nature's cycles. It is, therefore, not surprising that festivals have frequently attracted the attention of public authorities as possible instruments for the promotion of specific ideas linked to nationhood or the nation-state. The histories of the Biennale in Venice, the Salzburg Festival in Austria and the Bayreuth Festival in Germany during the first half of the 20th century, are blunt reminders not only of the way in which state propaganda works, but also of the association of some of the humanist ideals with megalomaniac totalitarian projects. But also in periods of peace, festivals have been used as diplomacy projects to advance specific national agendas (in culture or the economy) in the framework of inter-national competition. All of the major film festivals-Cannes, Berlin, Mostra-offer examples for this.

Regeneration was a third important objective pursued by festivals. Exemplary in this connection are the Vienna Festival in the 1950s and the Brighton Festival in the 1960s. Many of the urban mixed-arts festivals that have emerged during the last couple of decades are mainly motivated by the desire to increase the attractiveness of urban space for their own residents but also tourists. That this is an issue not only for urban spaces is illustrated by the Umbria Jazz Festival, which has helped re-discover the appeal of Perugia, but also the Hay Literature Festival, which has placed the Brecon Beacons National Park and the small city Hay-on-Wye on the mental map of the average British citizen.

'Place' has always been an important component of festival organization-with respect to the city in which the festival happens but also, more specifically, the location for festival events. The Brighton Festival is today closely associated with the Brighton Dome, the renovation of which was made possible by the festival. At the same time, the Dome has grown into an independent attraction of the city, indirectly contributing to the Festival's publicity. The same is true for the Vienna Festival and several locations in the city of Vienna, like the 'Theater an der Wien' in the 1970s and the Museum Quarter today. This specific role of festivals for urban infrastructure investment is hardly ever tapped by economic impact studies of festivals, yet it is perhaps their most lasting legacy.

Physical space was, however, not the defining first facet of all festivals. The location of some festivals, like the Sónar Festival and the Cannes Festival, or even the Hay Festival, was almost accidental. Of course, over time, place grew in significance also for these-not least due to the fact that important funding mechanisms are 'locked' into specific locations or administrations. But for these festivals their 'place' was rather that associated with their founders. Indeed, all festivals began or grew as projects of individuals: Umbria Jazz got launched in Perugia because that was where its two initiators had their creative base; Sónar got started in Barcelona because that was where a group and network of musicians and music journalists interested in electronic music were based; the Berlin International Literature Festival takes place in Berlin because that was where its initiator moved to in the late 1990s-and so on and so forth. In other words, even when festivals appear well 'rooted' in a specific location, a closer look at their histories shows that they are often the outputs of people on the move. The ultimate 'negation of space' is, of course, exhibited by the WOMAD festival which is best characterized as a 'travelling' festival with multi-national sites. The Hay Festival is also one other festival beginning to experiment with this multi-national identity. In this protean relationship with 'space', festivals are also most obviously cosmopolitan in the sense of combining outward- and inward-looking orientations.

Festivals which are less fixed to a particular space are often initiated in an effort to create a global 'public space' for a new genre within an arts field. WOMAD is the festival which established 'world music' as a recognizable music direction and, later, brand. Sónar was instrumental for advancing electronic music. A 'specialized' approach, albeit cutting across national boundaries, is also often displayed by 'ethnic' festivals launched in order to advance multicultural understanding or dialogue, like the Jewish Film Festival in Vienna. Here the objective was dispelling myths about homogeneity regarding a specific minority and, in so doing, creating a 'public space' for reflecting on ethnic or religious identity also within the community itself.

A trend that characterized all festivals already at their inception stage was internationalization. This was consistent with the explicit objective of many festivals to contribute to openness but also their commitment to innovation and democratization of cultural knowledge. Indeed even the festivals launched in the inter-war period were, in part, motivated by the desire to move beyond what is familiar and well-known. In the late 19th century, Biennale was launched as a project for overcoming regional divisions and contributing to the Italian 'national' project, which was at the time thought to carry an emancipation potential. This emancipation potential is today linked to internationalization. Film is perhaps the forerunner of this trend due to the inter-national competition element that characterized the inception phase of the major film festivals. In the meantime, all other festivals are branching out-each with an own strategy-towards 'foreign' artists, authors or audiences. This is also favoured by the old and new media reporting or sponsoring festivals on a large scale.

Arts Festivals in Europe Today

Many of the high-level objectives and visions that motivated the launching of arts festivals in the course of the twentieth century are still relevant today. At the same time new challenges have emerged. Even though our thirteen case studies could not be said to have been selected as representative of arts festivals in Europe today, insofar as they concern festivals with a reputation and role-model function, they could also be said to provide a good overview of the type of challenges that arts festivals are or will be facing in Europe today.


The thirteen festivals under study fall into one of the following two categories in terms of financing: They either largely rely on a mixed bag of public subsidies, or they display a mixed model of financing combining public subsidies, private sponsorship and revenues from tickets sales

Festivals belonging in the first category include Berlin and Borderlands literature festivals, the Vienna Festival and two of the film festivals-Vienna and Mostra. Under the mixed model we find Hay and Brighton as well as Cannes and Berlin. The Borderlands festival is a bit of an outlier as it derives its funding from a private foundation-whereby its small 'project-like' budget is only possible because it is implemented by an organization which heavily relies on public subsidies, hence its classification in the first category.

Over time the mixed business model has been gaining in significance. If 'success' is taken to mean financial sustainability combined with the capacity to maintain a specific programme level and output, then the most successful festivals are those which have managed to attract different types of sponsors. The mixed business model is also the most conducive to internationalization with respect to festival organization. This is notable in the cases of Hay and WOMAD which are already expanding to other regions or areas of the world.

The local embeddedness of festivals in terms of financing and organization cuts across the financing model category. It is key in both Vienna festivals studied by the project as well as the Brighton festival, the Venice Biennale and Mostra as well as Sónar and Umbria Jazz. It is less important in the case of Hay, Womad and Borderlands; and in the case of Berlin (film and literature) it is more nominal than substantive since the public subsidies received are from federal sources even if earmarked for the capital city.


Unlike what we found in terms of financing structures, in terms of organization all thirteen festivals are quite similar, relying on a comparatively small festival team comprising one or a few festival directors (curating different parts of the programme and/or in charge of organization) and some 10-15 personnel working in assistant positions or in charge of operational issues. During festival time all festivals rely heavily on volunteers or short-term employment. Most festivals are run by charity companies, not-for-profit associations or publicly-owned companies with advisory and oversight functions resting often with foundations in which major sponsors have a vote. Only the Sónar and Womad Festival are run as profit-making companies. The concise organization of the festival management's team appears to be important in terms of ensuring the disciplined and timely organization of the festival each year and it seems to be a frequent model within the creative industry sector.

Role of directors

It is almost commonplace to say that directors are key persons for the festivals' success and long-term sustainability; and the reader who persists in reading all thirteen case studies of Deliverable D3.1 is likely, at the end, to consider this so obvious as not worth paying particular attention to. Yet it is probably the single most important commonality that cuts across all festivals regardless of genre, location, funding base or organizational make-up. Moreover it applies not only to the founding directors but also to subsequent generations. Indeed in the festival world, founding directors, however important, are not always also the most legendary.

Yet the single-person directorship is increasingly being overhauled and not only in urban mixed-arts festivals which by default have to rely on different persons for different artistic forms. Single-arts festivals are also increasingly relying on more than one director for implementing different programme components or covering specific management functions. This trend is indicative of increasing specialization-away from the 'creative' cultural entrepreneur and innovator towards the professional creative industry professional. Balancing professionality (and standardization) with creativity (and flexibility) is one of the challenges faced by contemporary arts festivals.

What all festival directors share is a commitment to the arts as well as festival culture as an opportunity for promoting and materializing cultural encounters. In addition, they are all brilliant networkers-within the artists' scene, with the media, with the cultural industry and with funding organizations. It is their ability to transform their social capital and informal networks into professional collaborations that marks them as successful festival directors.

Networking structures

Networking is essential for festival culture and this operates at different levels. Our research has identified three types of networks: artistic / professional networks; economic networks comprising funding agencies and sponsors; and commercial networks in the form of the promoting industry in specific arts fields (film industry, publishing industry, music industry etc.) or in terms of collaborating partners (such as other festivals).

Territoriality is a relevant element especially for the second type of networks since funding agencies but also sponsors differentiate according to whether they work nationally, regionally, locally or internationally. Another cross-cutting dimension is that of the degree of formality of networks. Artists' and professional networks often operate informally-and this is exemplified by the way in which the artists' represented in festival programmes are often identified (externally) as the directors' 'friends' and colleagues. Economic networks are more formal in structure but intersected with informal personal links: hence, for instance, the sponsorships in Umbria Jazz are partly determined by the fact that some major CEOs are jazz fans. Commercial networks operate in similar fashion.

The significance of place for festivals has a lot to do with the concentration of social and cultural capital in networks operating in specific areas (as in capital areas) or channelled into specific locations which enjoy a certain tradition and history (like Umbria or Hay). In turn, festivals contribute to the reproduction of their localities social and cultural capital thus creating a virtuous circle.

The role of the media

The media is of course the main publicity channel and all festivals studied have professional press relations with especially national media. But those festivals which have managed to grow into 'brands' are usually festivals with a closer connection to the media as sponsors like WOMAD (with 'The Independent') or Hay (with 'The Guardian'). In the case of the literature festivals, and especially the Hay Festival, the media are also more than just sponsors. They constitute a network in its own right, supplying authors, moderators and interviewers. This is also evidence for the continuing importance of the media for the literary public sphere.

All artistic genres are being affected by 'new media' in terms of reproduction and dissemination. In the music sector, the 'record label' is no longer the main instrument of the music industry which is instead concentrating on the 'live' event for revenues and electronic downloads of single features. In literature the e-book is gaining ground and is expected to change the way in which books are published. These developments are bringing about a further opening up and democratization of the arts in addition to breaking down the traditional barriers of access and value signification. In this new polyphonic environment, festivals are transformed into 'publicity' channels for new artists as well as into 'filters' for assigning value. The latter function is often linked to awards or prizes.

Festival programmes and symbolic representations

The festivals studied differ not only in terms of the artistic form they favour but also in terms of size and the type of events they promote. In the arts field, the notion of 'festival' is better known from music and is associated with large-scale open-air events attracting thousands of audience. In film the events are the screenings of films in cinemas whereby the more famous of the film festivals studied by this project-Cannes, Mostra, Berlin-also make a lot out of the 'red carpet' culture associated with prestigious prizes and shrieking youth faced with prominent actors. Literature festivals are more intellectual events resembling workshops and conferences interspersed with book signings and live comedy performances. Finally urban mixed-arts festivals are a mixed-bunch and their format often depends on the urban space in which they take place.

The notorious 'festive' experience therefore varies according to the artistic component of the festival; culminating rather in the whole shebang that comes along: the open air element-during the breaks if not during the performance-the social events; the availability of different types of food through food stalls spread across the festival space (or in an urban space) and perhaps, above all, the diverse artist-line up (with many international or 'foreign' names, new and old names, prominent and less prominent ones). Even when people join the festival in order to attend specific performances (or even at the risk of attending none as in the case of Cannes considering the latter's prioritization of professionals), the experience of being there entailing the possibility to meet more than one 'favourite' artist, thus expanding one's horizons, is what is at the heart of the 'festival' experience on which all festivals-large and small, broad or specialized, mixed or single-arts-try to capitalize. Not all are equally successful in this respect. The smaller festivals like the Vienna Jewish Film Festival or Borderlands remain small-scale activities for niche audiences. In contrast, the success of bigger festivals such as all other film festivals, all music festivals as well as the Hay Festival hinges on their ability to reproduce or stage this festive experience-as recounted by one of the interviewees for Womad-every year. 'One had to be there'-that is the word festival organizers want to get around about their event.

The 'festive' experience is the screen on which all other festival goals are projected and at the same time the instrument through which they are mediated:

The educative role: in the case of those festivals that emerged within a social democratic tradition like the two Vienna festivals and Sónar, education means sensibilizing the 'people' to culture and the arts thus democratizing the arts themselves; and in the case of literature festivals it also means educating the future generations for the literary public sphere. At a more mundane level, the festivals' programmes for children are the result of the demographics of the festival audiences and the transition from youth (and being single) to adulthood (and having families and children). (Much as facebook got transformed from an elite student social networking tool to a 'suburbian' networking tool.)

The internationalism and cultural encounter role-this is the ultimate politics of festivals even when they claim to be 'apolitical' as many of the music festivals do for fear of being associated with any specific political party. Internationalism is the second common characteristic of all festivals studied besides the significant role of directors. The two are of course closely interconnected as the festivals were often originally founded in order to promote internationalism and cultural encounter. This is also an important value within the artistic communities which are very international in composition. The international focus of festivals is not used alone in organizational terms as 'internationalization' for putting together the festival programme; it is also adhered to as a cultural ideological principle-hence also the reference to internationalism or cultural encounter-and explains perhaps the manner in which 'Europe', representing a meso level of identity reference, gets 'lost' in artistic festivals even if, as in the case of Womad or the Berlin literature festival, it is thought of as either the 'origin' of specific art preferences (as for world music) or its primary topos (as for literature). Similarly, cosmopolitanism but also multiculturalism, even if relevant associations to the arts festivals (as also illustrated by the audience surveys carried out by the project), are not the first or main identification symbols. Why this is not the case was best expressed by the focus group discussion organized in Umbria: multiculturalism, it was there said, is a political programme whereas cosmopolitanism refers to a 'possibility' (a potential) more than a reality.

Specific political messages: practically all of the festival organizers and the majority of artists are people leaning to the left of the political spectrum and as such supporters of freedom, equality and justice, human rights, anti-racism, diversity and multiculturalism, access and opportunity, feminism, and social liberalism. As explicit defenders of their values, they will often use festivals as platforms to advance their causes: like when Peter Gabriel performing at WOMAD uses the opportunity to raise awareness about the Chechnya war; or Jane Birkin performing at Hay for Burma; or the Biennale and Vienna Jewish Film festival organizers for Palestine; or the Berlin Literature organizers for human rights in Chechnya or China; or the Mostra organizers against Berlusconi or Bush's America. Some festivals-notably the music festivals-will proclaim an 'apolitical' attitude to signal distance from (national) party politics but also because they are wary of alienating part of their audiences. As a result, political discussion as such is left to literature festivals and here the Hay Festival is distinctive in actively and successfully promoting debates that entail the confrontation of different points of view.

What type of art is promoted by this mosaic of influences described above? A closer look at the performers, artists and authors-their works and biographies-reveals an extremely diverse and buzzing community. The younger generation of artists making their way into the field and hopping across the festival circuits are in their majority individuals best described by the word 'hybrid' in two main ways: first, in displaying rather cosmopolitan biographies with diverse backgrounds or extended periods of stay in different countries (and not only or even primarily as a result of forced migration or exile); and second, in the inter-disciplinary and cross-boundary orientation of their work as they either have different professional 'hats' or experiment with different styles, genres or a mixture of the high and low-brow. This hybridization is not the result of 'conscious choice' alone; just as it does not only derive from the economic insecurities involved in the artistic profession. Rather, both opportunity and financial insecurity result from globalization; and within the setting provided by internationalism and festival culture, this gives rise to hybridization and cosmopolitanism in the arts.

All festivals have recognized this but some are more explicit than others about it. Thus, the Sónar festival was even established for promoting a new type of genre, a cross-over between the high-brow experimental music and low-brow dance culture; and on the other extreme of the continuum, the Biennale still aspires to be the canon for different forms of art. Most other festivals are following a rather mixed artistic agenda-some (like the three main film festivals, the Vienna and Brighton festivals or the Berlin literature festival) going as far as creating special 'sections' of their programme for subsuming different artistic forms, the old and the new or the more prominent (or commercial) as opposed to the more 'high-brow'. This segmentation of art forms and its bringing together under the umbrella of one cultural event represents the 'supermarket' identity of festivals-and a sign of both their 'democratizing' and 'commercializing' tendencies. At the same time, the higher incidence of cross-over upsets the clear drawing of boundaries and defies segmentation-and for each festival 'section' with a long history there are several others which survived only for a short period of time or had to be re-created anew. Some festivals, like the Biennale, give the impression of being constantly under flux or reform as they adapt to changing external conditions but also the change of taste preferences.

The audiences

Just like in the original literary public sphere of the seventeenth century described by Habermas, the prime audience of the contemporary arts and literature festivals are the educated middle classes. Back in the seventeenth century this class was small and still quite elitist-hence also the preference of the salon as the place of performance, encounter and discussion; today the educated middle class has significantly enlarged and it is perhaps no surprise that it favours instead the festival.

The music festival audience tends to be younger than that of urban mixed festivals; and women still constitute the majority in literature festivals like Berlin which continue to focus on fiction. But the relative-and in some cases the absolute-majority are people with a university degree (and their children); and like the artists and festival organizers they are more likely to be liberal in political orientation or leaning to the left (thus readers of 'The Independent', 'The Guardian', listeners of BBC Radio 3 and 4, or watching ARTE and 3SAT and listening to Deutschland KulturRadio or OE1 and FM4).

In terms of their cultural orientation, they are attracted by the international(ist) nature of festivals and the opportunity they offer to meet or listen to specific artists; and they tend to like the arts and usually more than one type (but not, on average, more than two or three). Opinions are rather divided with respect to approval or disapproval of the usual academic characterization of the artistic field in categories such as high- vs. low-brow that signify hierarchies; and the acceptability of combining aesthetics with entertainment. In other words, while being homogeneous in socio-demographic and in political orientation, festival audiences differ with respect to social and cultural capital. What this suggests is that 'taste' as a discriminatory variable deserves more attention in (cultural) sociological inquiries-also more generally.

What Future for Arts Festivals in Europe?

In an attempt to gain insight about the future of arts festivals in Europe, the project's fourth and last Deliverable 4.1 carried out comparative analysis seeking an enlarged understanding of cultural policy, classifications and cosmopolitanism as seen through the prism of the festival institution. These conclusions provide useful starting points for future research, suggesting thematic issues and new tracks for investigation.

Cultural policy

The main policy-relevant issue here is the following: are festivals which are funded according to the 'subsidy' model different than those which follow the mixed business model? Our answer has been: Yes, there seems to be a difference in that the latter are more likely to seek and achieve a balance of what are usually referred to as the 'commercial' and 'aesthetic' logics, supposed to be in opposition. In contrast, festivals which rely more on the subsidy model are more concerned about issues of quality (either rhetorically or in terms of criteria), even when they too mix artistic representations in order to increase their outreach. Still, those festivals which are embedded in their local environment also in terms of funding have to make an effort to adapt their 'aesthetic' logics to sensitivities-cultural or social-of local politicians.

An important point we could raise at this point is that it is not certain that these two logics-aesthetic and commercial-are necessarily at odds as a long lasting rhetoric says and many (but not all) stakeholder repeat. This is obviously a heritage of a modernist and romantic ideology of the arts, an anti-capitalist and anti-industrialist legacy, which is at the core of even major social theories of the relationship between art and society such as Bourdieu's. But empirically what we observe are increased occurrences of merging or at least negotiation between the two logics, or between various forms of capital including the economic one (together with the cultural and social). Moreover, this is actively (and explicitly) pursued by some managers and directors and sometimes by artists and the audience.

Festival organizers have many strategies to manage the (supposed) conundrum between quality and quantity, or the tension between aesthetic experimentation and popular tastes. These strategies are an integral part of the organizational life of contemporary festivals, and make it possible to be faithful to the original mission despite commercial pressures. Festivals are very proud of their origins as is evident in their programmes and in official statements. Even if we cannot forget that actors are strategic managers of their image and representation, even as interviewees, we should also recall that path dependency is a true force in social life, and that imprinting is also an organizational force. This may explain the continuing irrelevance of the EU as a policy reference for festivals: the nation state is still a cultural force in our current landscape, and mobility and globalization notwithstanding, cultural life finds in the national horizon not only its major financial support but also and above all its most important identity provider.


Unlike keywords like 'internationalization', 'internationalism' and 'globalization', which are positively connoted within the arts scene and also among the festival audiences, 'cosmopolitanism' has an ambiguous aura and is sometimes viewed suspiciously. Audience surveys conducted within our festivals have showed that this might have to do with the vagueness of the term: for some it is a positively valued disposition linked to multiculturalism while for others it has more to do with economic liberalism and has a negative image. Moreover, the terms 'cosmopolitan' and 'cosmopolitanism' are rarely used spontaneously by interviewees, or by participants in focus groups, to describe aspects of the festivals studied. This should however, not come as a surprise given that cosmopolitan theory has yet to properly enter the vocabulary of everyday policy-making, or popular discourses as mediated and produced by newspapers or television.

Despite this, our research has also shown that those trends which are associated with the theoretical construct of cosmopolitanism such as mobility, openness and diversity, cultural encounter and hybridization are occurring within the art world at large as well as within the younger generations of artists and audiences who unlike their parents are not only travelling for education, but also for professional reasons and for entertainment or cultural pleasures. This is also why they enjoy the festivals and also continue to do so after settling down and having children (whom they then introduce to festivals through the frequent programmes festivals provide for children).

The findings of our research support the hypothesis of a fit between festivals' images, and especially self-representation, and cosmopolitan dispositions and outlook. At the same time, our research has shown that it is important to distinguish between different types of cosmopolitan attitudes. These range from the simplest and most common-a sort of omnivorous taste based on curiosity and openness to otherness in terms of cultural consumptions-to the strongest, deepest and in fact rarest sense of a reflexive disposition entailing "the formation of a moral consciousness rooted in emotional responses to global issues, concern with global ethics based on shared values, putting the non-national interest before the national interest."

The first simple type of a cosmopolitan disposition is widespread among the whole festival world. Considering the relatively young age, educated, and middle-class background of the majority of festival organizers and audience members, this is as expected. But we have also observed a variable distribution of these varieties of cosmopolitanism among artistic genres-with the literary festivals emerging as the most deeply cosmopolitan and musical festivals as those more attuned to the simple type of cosmopolitanism, grounded more in curiosity and pleasure than in moral reflexivity and political awareness.

This is surprising as music, as the most abstract of the performative arts, is possibly one of the least constrained by local settings and references, and the more open to meaning-making and even to a generalized disposition to otherness. The same musical genres selected in our research-namely jazz, electronica, and world music-are by their nature and history grounded in a world-wide attitude much larger than the state boundaries and even the white "race", its social reference being a "black Atlantic", a technological world, or the whole world as matrix of sounds and sonic experiences. The apparent weakness of music festivals in terms of 'deep' cosmopolitan values suggests a methodological point which our research has possibly neglected or not considered enough in its implications, i.e. the privilege social science research techniques grant to a literary consciousness or better a discursively mediated reflexivity-something which fits the literary world well but could miss important aspects of the musical world, and for what matters, also the world of the so called mixed festivals in which music plays a central role.

Classifications and boundary work

As the defining category used to distinguish aesthetic quality from commercial success, the 'high vs. low-brow' distinction continues to be relevant in the artistic festival world and we have shown the many ways in which this divide is subtly reproduced even if apparently overcome-for example by way of a strategic use of spaces. But it would be inaccurate to misrecognize the existence and impact of other equally important characterizations and distinctions, like 'innovation' or 'experimentation' vs. 'mainstream', 'new' vs. 'old' (or canonical), and even the many identity categorizations which have acquired legitimacy in the last few years and that complement, overlap, and complicate the traditional high vs. low divide with newly formed distinctions in terms of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and even aesthetically based subcultures. Moreover, the number of people, especially artists but also audience, who are questioning these distinctions is on the rise as more and more artists experiment with crossing boundaries or the mixing of genres and styles in order to find a way in the market or in the art world. Still, the contemporary art scene is more fragmented and rich than it ever was and this as an effect of the increased territorial mobility (favoured also by the increasing availability of low cost flights), more opportunities in terms of labour market, but also rising work insecurities and flexibilities.

What exactly all this means in terms of cultural de-classification is however open to debate. We have privileged a cautious interpretation which underlines continuity and reproduction more than radical change and transgression, insisting on the organizational constraints which promote the use of accepted categories even in times of change and intellectual effervescence or creativity. At the same time, we have underlined that even identity politics could produce its own hierarchies along with its set of new distinctions. In short, we suggest that it is too early to tell if something really new is coming, or whether we are just in the middle of a long transition process, where old hierarchies are gradually becoming less tenable while new hierarchies are being shaped, albeit without radically questioning the structure of cultural aesthetics in terms of high vs. low-brow even if the cultural content is changing.

Potential Impact:

Directions for Further Research

Now, in conclusion, we set out a few limits or gaps in our research that we think we have to acknowledge, and that we hope future research will address and fill.

Even if audiences were never totally out of our gaze and our attention, as the surveys and focus groups we conducted testify, our research has privileged the production side of festivals. Future research might like to reverse this relationship. Audiences are what make festivals successful or failures as public rituals. You could have a perfect organization, and be able to offer the best of the artistic performance or works, but if nobody attends, the festival has missed its target, which is to present and distribute art works to people. How people behave, act, react, think, even feel as audience(s) in festivals is a crucial and complex topic we still know comparatively little about.

A second limitation of the research is its relatively small and highly selected sample of cases, namely thirteen, located in still fewer countries-namely Germany, France, Austria, UK, Italy and Spain. It was, of course, never our intention to be representative at this stage. Festival research is still at its early stages and therefore a lot of exploratory research is needed to first define the boundaries of the field and the key theoretical issues. We have intentionally concentrated on festivals with a certain history and set of achievements precisely for this purpose. But now that our research has been completed, it would be useful to begin testing the extent to which our findings can be generalised and what we can learn from those cases where this is not possible. Such a comparative research program could be accompanied by a closer and stronger focus on different nation-state cultures and practices, aimed at exploring the different structures of opportunities the EU may encounter as a new agent of cultural policy besides national, regional and urban public institutions.

A third direction which we would suggest is a closer look at the relations between festival organizations and artists. Current sociological research on festivals is mainly interested in issues which pertain to urban regeneration, economic development, and status group dynamics. Within the humanities, curiously enough, festivals are commonly evoked as venues and places where events take place, but they do not constitute typical subjects in themselves. This also means that not enough attention is paid to festivals as institutions for artists. The Euro-Festival project represents one of first projects to have taken a closer look at this aspect, albeit still from within the cultural sociological approach. Obviously more research is needed on this topic, also from within the humanities.

Policy Recommendations

What policy recommendations are to be drawn from our research?

European arts festivals are important expressions of cosmopolitan dispositions, bringing together artists and audiences who are interested in diversity as knowledge, experience and exchange. It is this openness and intrinsic international spirit pervading arts festivals that also makes them attractive as carriers of cultural policy and for both public and private sponsors. In addition, several arts festivals are used as platforms for conveying political messages or for discussing contested issues. This is particularly but not solely the remit of literature festivals. More and more festivals will today use the display of art, the reading of a text, the screening of a film or the performance of music as an opportunity for raising awareness about or discussing specific topics. The heightened interest in discussions in the framework of artistic events is also symptomatic of the growing importance of social and political issues within the contemporary arts world-a social fact that is in line with the changing profile and role of the artist as a public intellectual.

Contemporary European arts festivals are European in being located in Europe; and by addressing issues relating to diversity, human rights, openness and democracy that are at the core of European values. But Europe (as in the European Union), like the nation-state, is often a suspect category as representing specific vested interests. The internationalism of festivals is a far more important category both ideationally and as an organizational format than Europe and this is unlikely to change in the near future. The absence of the European Union as sponsor, however-other than occasionally and on a low level-also means that the EU cannot even benefit from arts festivals in terms of 'branding' in the way that regions or cities are doing by providing support to festivals.

The cultural leverage of the EU as representing something distinct and beyond national cultural policy would benefit by being present in arts festivals through the sponsoring of specific debates or events or by supporting specific activities such as mobility and exchange programmes of specific groups of artists. This would provide visibility to the EU's educational and cultural role and complement the educative function of several arts festivals. For example, the European Union could provide support to festivals for featuring women, young artists or artists of specific ethnic or trans-national backgrounds, or for promoting activities which target children. Or it could sponsor discussions about the role of the European Union with reference to topical subjects as addressed by specific artistic productions.

But perhaps the most important policy-relevant finding of our research is that as fertile soils for the creativity and the exchange of ideas among artists but also with the audiences, arts festivals have emerged bottom-up, and it is this which makes them important as public sphere arenas. Ultimately a public sphere as an arena for bringing together citizens for discussing issues of common (public) interest only functions if it has emerged spontaneously rather than top-down through direct state intervention. Arts festivals are in many respects driven by their intermediaries, the many artists and cultural managers who are personally and professionally committed to democratic values and the role of arts in society. But once established they acquire a dynamic of their own. It is this that is valued by their audiences and the reason why they can be genuinely said to represent public spheres. In this context, the role of policy should primarily be to help sustain the external or institutional conditions that make the emergence of such public spheres possible. This can be achieved by providing infrastructure and financial support to cultural intermediary institutions and their workers; or by helping establish legal and regulatory frameworks that facilitate the establishment and operation of such organizations. In democratic societies the state has a key role in supporting civil society, but the indirect means of doing so are often much more conducive to the democratic idea per se. The case of arts festivals is a case in point.

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