Music festivals are considered crucial social instruments in the UK with a prominent emphasis on their capabilities for promoting social cohesion. Apart from their role in contributing to economic development, the music festivals are considered responsible for drawing substantial returns in the form of the cultural identity of a specific jurisdiction. While music festivals continue to expand all over the world, there have been notable criticisms against music festivals on the grounds of their influence on the economic and social environment (Bartie, 2013).
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The following report is aimed at presenting a critical reflection on the statement, ‘Is 2017 the year music festival died?’ through the perspective of three distinct themes such as Mega-Events, Food and Drinks and Nighttime economy. The three themes reflect particularly on the distinct sides of a music festival’s outcomes and support the argument for their role in promotion as well as the closure of music festivals.
The consideration of music festivals as mega-events should be reviewed with respect to positive as well as negative outcomes of mega-events. The foremost benefit identified in the context of a mega-event is the awareness and intangible factor of ‘feel good’ that pertains to the country or society’s identity across the world. The influence of mega-events is generally associated with their recognition all over the world which prompts the members of the community to feel positive about their country’s identity. Furthermore, mega-events are also responsible for framing the cultural identity of a community or country that could be a positive implication for the social environment and is considered effective in scenarios involving increased urbanisation, periods of recession or polarisation among the various communities.
It is imperative to classify music festivals as mega-events owing to the scale on which they are organized alongside the benefits of cultural identity developed by them (BOP, Consulting. 2013). On the contrary, it is essential to consider the role of music festivals as mega-events with respect to negative outcomes so that the reasons for the closure of music festivals can be explained. Some of the notable negative implications derived from music festivals as mega-events include exaggeration of expected benefits, lack of focus on urban priorities, substantial public risk and interests of the elite.
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As per Clarke (1982), Mega-events are also liable to introduce special exemptions in the context of legislations pertaining to property rights or taxation (Clarke, 1982). These changes for conducting a music festival could then lead to major disparities in the existing legislative structure alongside contributing to financial loss incurred by the venue. Another prominent factor that can be observed as a reason for shutting down music festivals is the underestimation of costs.
The organization of a music festival is also reflective of shifts in decisions on urban priorities and can be identified in examples of reserving capital or land for music festivals that could be otherwise implemented for resolving other pertinent threats (Falassi, 1987).
From a critical perspective, the role of music festivals as a crowd puller can be identified as a notable implication for the night-time economy. The Night-time economy could be related to the music festivals as primary stakeholders in the nighttime economy include concert visitors. On the other hand, music festivals account for attendance from all parts of the world which are characterized by varying attitudes towards the night-time economy. Therefore, Foufas said that it can be observed that while music festivals can provide the necessary support to the nighttime economy it also draws plausible concerns regarding security (Foufas, 2018).
This factor is also reflective of the substantial costs related to the transformation of security and policing infrastructure in the area that can be aptly associated with an impact on economic prospects. Since the nighttime economy is responsible for contributing to a major share of economic returns or growth for the community, it is essential to recognize that music festivals would not only account for contributing to the daytime economy but also for dedicating a particular share of the nighttime economy for promotion of music festivals (Gornall, 2015). The Chair of the Night Time Commission and The Night Czar could be considered as examples of associations formed for the development and promotion of the night-time economy.
However, Robinson said that the possibilities of correlated functioning of these bodies of authority and the organizers as well as individuals attending the music festivals are considerably bleak that could be responsible for unwanted outcomes (Robinson, 2016).
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The organization of music festivals and the subsequent variations in the price of tickets have been associated with reflections on the additional costs incurred by the organizers. Food and drinks can be assumed as the mandatory inclusions in a music festival and can be referred to in terms of price as well as safety for placing arguments regarding the death of music festivals in the UK.
According to Partridge (2006), the variation of food and drink choices that are available for visitors at music festivals can be considered as prolific elements. This factor could also be supported by the references to examples of various food and beverage brands that leverage the events as a source for their promotion (Partridge, 2006). The participation of renowned chefs as well as restaurant owners in music festivals could be placed as a reasonable argument suggesting the development of the cultural identity of different music festivals. Hence, considering the factor of diversity in food and drink choices leads to the inference that music festivals do not need to be shut down completely.
On the contrary, Pitts & Spencer said that it can be identified that music is the primary concern of many event attendees and focusing on the promotion of music festivals on the basis of food offerings could very well turn their reputation into food festivals (Pitts & Spencer, 2008). From a critical perspective, the costs of music festivals are also dependent on the costs of food and drinks that can be considered as the primary reason for which music festivals could start losing their appeal to customers (Pielichaty, 2015).
The critical reflection on the three distinct themes with respect to the statement related to the death of music festivals in 2017 suggests that while the cultural significance of these events is realized through diversity in terms of food and drinks offerings and a distinct nighttime economy, the concerns for security and obstacles for social development as well as lack of focus on urban priorities could be considered as reasons for the slow decline in the popularity of music festivals.
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Bartie, A., 2013. Edinburgh Festivals: Culture and Society in Post-war Britain: Culture and Society in Post-war Britain. Edinburgh University Press.
BOP, Consulting. 2013. Economic impact of Glyndebourne. Lewes: Glyndebourne and East Sussex County Council.
Burr, A., 2006. The freedom of slaves to walk the streets: Celebration, spontaneity and revelry versus logistics at the Notting Hill Carnival. Festivals, tourism and social change: Remaking worlds, 8, p.84.
Clarke, M., 1982. The politics of pop festivals. Junction Books Ltd..
Bbc.co.uk. (2018). BBC – Somerset – Glastonbury Festival – Eavis: “Winehouse needs to be at Glasto ’08”. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/somerset/content/articles/2008/01/08/winehouse_feature.shtml [Accessed 4 Feb. 2018].
Falassi, A., 1987. Festival: Definition and morphology. Time out of Time: Essays on the Festival, pp.1-10.
Foufas, C. 2018. What exactly is the point of music festivals?. [online] Telegraph.co.uk. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10922801/What-exactly-is-the-point-of-music-festivals.html [Accessed 4 Feb. 2018].
Gornall, J., 2015. Tickets to Glyndebourne or the Oval? Big tobacco’s bid to woo parliamentarians. BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online), 350.
Partridge, C., 2006. The spiritual and the revolutionary: Alternative spirituality, British free festivals, and the emergence of rave culture. Culture and Religion, 7(1), pp.41-60.
Pielichaty, H., 2015. Festival space: gender, liminality and the carnivalesque. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 6(3), pp.235-250.
Pitts, S.E. and Spencer, C.P., 2008. Loyalty and longevity in audience listening: investigating experiences of attendance at a chamber music festival. Music and Letters, 89(2), pp.227-238.
Robinson, R., 2016. Music festivals and the politics of participation. Routledge.Order Now