Jamming together: how folk festivals engage local communities

Community is central to the idea of the folk festival. But communities that host these public events don’t just provide inspiration, venues or cultural backdrops to art or performance. They actively shape its success.  folk festivals engage

What community engagement practices are organisers using at Australian folk festivals? And what does this mean for host communities? Francesca Piazzi and Rob Harris look at how organisers are collaborating with locals in their article, ‘Community Engagement and Public Events: The Case of Australian Folk Festivals’.

Piazzi and Harris interview event organisers and their survey reveals three types of engagement practices in use: transactional, transitional, and transformational practices. Transactional practices keep the host community informed, support local businesses, and provide special access, training or opportunities for locals. Transitional practices ask for community input, partnerships, and can extend to long-term collaborations. And transformational practices see communities formally share resources, decision-making powers and event management responsibilities with organisers.

Why do event managers choose these approaches, and how does this play out in the community? Piazzi and Harris spot the factors influencing these decisions and outcomes as they study the social aspects of community engagement.   

Francesca Piazzi is program administrator at WestWood Spice. Rob Harris is a Senior Lecturer at University of Technology Sydney, and Director of the Australian Centre for Event Management.

Photo: Christian Bowman/Flickr/cc

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