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Festival connections: how consistent and innovative connections enable small-scale rural festivals to contribute to socially sustainable communities

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Niki Black



This paper examines the contribution of small-scale, rural festivals to the social sustainability of their host communities.Small-scale, community originated festivals proliferate the rural landscape throughout the UK and yet despite this, festival research has focused predominantly on large, urban events and on their economic impact (Wood and Thomas 2009, Gibson and Connell 2011). This paper seeks to address the perceived research gap by examining these events through a lens of social sustainability. The research uses a case study approach focused on four festivals in Northumberland, UK. Individual interviews and focus groups were conducted with festival organisers, key figures and visitors. Following a Constructivist Grounded Theory method four principle indicators were identified to determine festival contribution to community social sustainability. These indicators are: contribution to community pride and localness, enhancement of knowledge and understanding, contribution to the continuity of local culture, and enablement of networks of connectivity.The findings demonstrate the networks of connections which festivals enable between the culture, heritage and people (individuals and groups) of a place. By focusing on four indicators the paper shows the social impact of connections through the festival processes and content. The paper argues that small-scale festivals in rural locations can contribute to social sustainability if they demonstrate a balance of both consistency and innovation and accessibility and openness within the locale.This paper addresses the gap in social impact research into rural festivals and presents an original approach to identify festival impact on community social sustainability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Black NH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Event and Festival Management

Year: 2016

Volume: 7

Issue: 3

Pages: 172-187

Print publication date: 01/09/2016

Acceptance date: 10/08/2016

Date deposited: 28/09/2016

ISSN (print): 1758-2954

ISSN (electronic): 1758-2962

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing


DOI: 10.1108/IJEFM-04-2016-0026


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