TENSIONS BETWEEN AMBITION AND REALITY IN UK COMBINED ARTS FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING: CASE STUDY OF THE LICHFIELD FESTIVAL
Finkel, R. (2006) TENSIONS BETWEEN AMBITION AND REALITY IN UK COMBINED ARTS FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING: CASE STUDY OF THE LICHFIELD FESTIVAL, International Journal of Event Management Research, vol. 2, , pp. 25-36,
The research presented examines the contradiction between reality and the expressed goals of many local combined arts festivals in the UK. Combined arts festivals are defined as those containing more than one genre of arts, e.g., Edinburgh International Festival. It is argued by some scholars and practitioners in the cultural field that there is now more pressure for the arts generally and combined arts festivals specifically to fit in to place-based economic and tourism strategies. Increasingly, festival organizers feel they must justify their funding by contributing quantifiable results to the community. A case study of the Lichfield Festival will illustrate these issues. Methodology for the broader research undertaken includes a survey sent to 117 UK combined arts festival organizers to discern audience demographics, programming, funding and future plans. In-depth interviews were conducted with Arts Councils, regional arts organizations, city officials, festival organizers and sponsors. Methods for the case study include in-depth interviews with the festival director of the Lichfield Festival at the time and local tourism officials, as well as participant and direct observation of the festival. Findings suggest that the increasing economic-centric perspective is one of the reasons for the increasing standardisation and homogenisation of combined arts festival programming across the UK.