Festivals and Creative Cities:
The Greek Local Governments and the Festival Sector
Since the last 2 decades, the concept that access to cultural resources and cultural consumption are the cornerstones of urban development strategies, has strongly affected the urban management theoretical framework. The term “culture” has semantically broadened to include social, economic and political aspects, being currently associated with urban development. Therefore, cultural planning is fundamental for the evolution of prosperous cities which are able to participate in an international network of creative cities, competing with each other for talent, business, resources and global attention.
In order to achieve these goals, festivals are often exploited in the frame of urban strategies with social or economic impact, resulting in the transformation of cities into festival landscapes and the emergence of festivalisation (festivals increase and systematic development). Festivals are also considered as major factors of urban life as well as catalysts of urban regeneration, due to the fact that they are able to attract tourism and investment, enrich the city image, boost local pride, form strong cultural identities and create new jobs.
Therefore, festivals are not only treated as cultural products but also as city branding and urban regeneration core elements, as well as means to achieve social cohesion, cultural production and job creation.
In order to fully exploit festivals for the purposes described above, city- makers ought to be market oriented. We can distinguish the following three dimensions of market orientation:
· Audience orientation (deep understanding of the festivals’ audience needs and preferences)
· Strategy evolution (evolution of a strategic plan)
· Strategy implementation (the actions needed to turn the strategic plan into operational actions).
This article builds on the work undertaken by Pugh C. & Wood E.H. (2004) into the strategic or operational use of events within the marketing plans of London Borough Councils which recommended that while a more “strategic” marketing orientation within the Councils was preferable, the focus was still operational and ad hoc, resulting in missed opportunities. That work has lent itself to generating the hypothesis of an extended research on the Modern Greek festival sector.
The research hypothesis that is currently tested, can be defined as follows:
With a market orientation local governments could use festivals as strategic tools to promote urban regeneration, city branding, cultural production, social cohesion and job creation, as well as adding value for the community.
The aim of the quantitative research in progress, which attempts to serve as the first extended quantitative research project at the Greek festival sector, is to find out whether market orientation is related to the achievement of the above mentioned municipal goals.
The proposed questionnaire includes 27 questions dealing with the following four main research goals:
1. Description of the festival (profile, identity, barriers to their development)
2. Marketing orientation of the festival (audience orientation, strategy development and implementation, municipal attitude towards marketing)
3. Festivals aims clarification
4. Relationship with urban regeneration / city branding / cultural production / social cohesion / job creation.
Τhe research sampling frame consists of the 325 Greek municipalities, and the research population includes every municipality involved in festival management.
Festival, urban regeneration, city marketing, market orientation, urban management, city branding, social cohesion, cultural production.
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