By Andrew Mason and Rebecca Scollen
Festivals are traditionally community events, expressions local culture celebrating a successful harvest or aspects of a region and its people. Festivals are powerful engines of place-making. As major events, modern festivals are promoted widely and make potent contributions to place branding, tourism and place identity. As such, large festivals must be professionally managed to ensure success and minimise risks. In managing such large events there is a possibility that local authenticity can be lost if festival organisers apply a dominant ‘top-down’ approach. The top-down event management can create a same-ness amongst festivals, diluting the brand and limiting local participation and engagement. This tension between professionally managing a major event, such as a festival, and the desirable authenticity of bottom-up community involvement can be managed with the inclusion of fringe-festivals. Fringe festivals allow for experimentation and innovation, which are necessary for the long term sustainability of a major festival. With experimentation comes risk, but by allowing experimentation in the form of a fringe festival the risk is managed and largely mitigated. Fringe festivals can also allow bottom-up community involvement, reflecting wider aspects of the local community and adding authenticity and diversity to the festival proper.
Andrew Mason, Rebecca Scollen, (2018) “Grassroots festival keeps city alive during severe drought”, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 11 Issue: 3, pp.266-276, https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMD-06-2017-0059