Leeds Met Uni hosted the Global Events Congress from 14-16 July 2010. Earlier posts here have covered much of what I found to be interesting, valuable and relevant to my own work (present and future). With a few weeks' distance however this post notes some of the bits that have jumped out from my note book as I riffle through it.
- C. Michael Hall: positing that just as crises and unexpected events (terrorist attacks, etc.) can be used to push policy agendas, so planned events may be used in the same way. He drew on recent World Cup in South Africa. This causes us to dispute the published objectives for hosting events.
- Monica Sassatelli (www.euro-festival.org
): festivals as 'cultural objects' or 'scenes/fields'. Drew on the 'post-traditional urban festival' idea - where the festival finds itself caught between various dialogues: of consumption/production; local/global; and so on. Finds links to Habermas on 'festive sociability', 'cultural public sphere' and 'aesthetic cosmopolitanism'.
- Martin Green (LOCOG): highlighted the challenges he faces in working within multiple agendas. Emphasises that the 2012 bid was won on the back of promises made to the IOC - these must be kept.
- Linda Wilks (OU): on social capital and cultural capital. Drew on the work of Bourdieu, Putnam and current projects at the Open University - see definitions and contexts of this work. 'Bonding' and 'bridging' social capital. Questioning the degree to which people (audiences) use events to meet new people, or focus on reinforcing existing relationships. Social media has a role in developing 'persistent connections' over 'temporary' or 'detached' connections.
- Calvin Jones (Cardiff): 'futureproof' festivals, in an era of declining oil and rising prices? Events suffering from high price elasticity, so can be discarded if prices climb in general, and of certain goods/services in particular (such as cheap air travel). Carbon costs: how to apply the carbon cost of a building to individual events - such as stadia which are built for itinerant mega-events. Should the Olympics stay in one place to get better value for the carbon cost? A need to reassess what individual events are for, with the possibility that these goals can be achieved through alternative means.
- Richard Shipway (Bournemouth University): applying ethnographic approaches to events research: experience the event as though a participant/audience/producer. Concludes that in part the focus is on the group of participants, rather than the event: the event becomes a culmination of effort for those people.
- Don Getz: on 'event studies' (see the book). Argues that event management, as an academic discipline, needs to develop a consistent/overall theoretical basis in order to gain status in the academic community and continue to grow as a subject area. Shifting focus from production > to management > to studies. Typologies for events: form or function or experience? Relevant discourses in which to place subject: event management and event tourism and classical discourses (history, geography, etc.). Considers 'social worlds', where people belong to a community which takes them to an event - that's the basis for their involvement. Foresees a future focused on 'experience', around which event studies will take its place as a focus for this larger subject.
- Frew and Flinn (GCU): Matt and Jenny talked about the 'mystification of festilvals', principally Glastonbury. Drawing on cultural consumption ideas they described a global circuit of weekend music festivals. The festivals are ultimately a controlled environment, despite the promise of freedom. This becomes a 'managed experiential brand', into which audiences willingly submit themselves. Research methods included using online tools to analyse what different sources and media have said about an event. My question (unasked): how to square the controlled image and experience (Glastonbury) with the desire to become a focus for social media activity, which is uncontrolled and decentralised? Authors and sources used appear in the longer post below, but see also
- Allan Jepson: on power, hegemony and relationships being at the heart of event production. Exclusive versus inclusive cultures of production.
There was much more to come out of the conference, of course - I've yet to trawl the conference proceedings (online) to see what's there that I missed. All in good time though.
It was my intention to reach a stage with my own research planning where I could safely put some of the 'content' discussions to one side while starting to plan ahead for the teaching to come and so on. I'm happy with where that's gotten to so far, with the main 'ideas' document now including some of the key ideas to come out of Leeds, and my wider reading and experiences. On a more practical note, the timing is apposite as the Edinburgh festivals get upto speed and suddenly these ideas are made real: all around me the tweets and flying, the videos are being posted and the blogs, reports and reviews are written. This is perhaps an area where the academy is lagging behind the industry, but it won't take much to catch up - with a little help from the students along the way.