Book

The Edinburgh Festivals: Culture and Society in Post-war Britain

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Abstract

The Edinburgh Festival is the world’s largest arts festival. It has also been the site of numerous ‘culture wars’ since it began in 1947. Key debates that took place across the western world about the place of culture in society, the practice and significance of the arts, censorship, the role of organised religion, and meanings of morality were all reflected in contest over culture in the Festival City. The Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama sought to use culture to bolster European civilisation, for which it was considered for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. The Church saw culture as a ‘weapon of enlightenment’, the labour movement as a ‘weapon in the struggle’, and the new generation of artistic entrepreneurs who came to the fore in the 1960s as a means of challenge and provocation, resulting in high profile controversies like the nudity trial of 1963 and the furore over a play about bestiality in 1967. These ideas - conservative and liberal, elite and diverse, traditional and avant-garde – all clashed every August in Edinburgh, making the Festival City an effective lens for exploring major changes in culture and society in post-war Britain. This book explores the ‘culture wars’ of 1945-1970 and is the first major study of the origins and development of this leading annual arts extravaganza.
... Yet, far from being associated with festivals, it was viewed as a particularly sombre setting in comparison to some other European capitals. The city's identity was underpinned by the continuing influence of the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment; alongside the dominant institutional presence of the Church, and professions such as law and medicine (Bartie 2013). ...
... As leader of the new EIF, Bing sought to rekindle Glyndebourne through the establishment of a European arts festival. Edinburgh was however below Oxford, Bath, Chester, Cambridge and Canterbury on the list of cities he would have chosen to host this festival (Bartie 2013). Nevertheless, due to the forces at play, EIF was created, and has remained one of Edinburgh's leading festivals. ...
Chapter
This chapter explores how two distinct strategic management and local community stakeholder groups engage with a festival city through their visual portrayals of spaces. Informed by festival city discourses and a hallmark event tourism stakeholder typology, it considers the semiotics of Edinburgh’s place-myth, as the ‘world’s leading festival city’. Today, eleven annual city-based festivals form the Festivals Edinburgh strategic umbrella organisation; they attract 4.5 million attendances from 70 countries worldwide; and they generate £313 million for Scotland’s economy. Edinburgh’s evolution as the festival city has seen destination managers’ leveraging its festivals to drive event tourism. Indeed, recent strategies recommend sustaining Edinburgh’s festival city status and promotion of its brand worldwide. Nevertheless, contemporary discourses have witnessed residents and media criticise commercial agendas of staging year-round festivals in Edinburgh’s historic centre; with accusations of destination managers’ commodification of these, marking Edinburgh as ‘the city for sale’. Semiotics uncovers layers of meaning and myth through studying systems of ‘signs’. This chapter applies a semiotic lens to stakeholders’ perspectives of Edinburgh as the festival city. It draws from digital images shared by destination management stakeholders, then from a participative visual map of the festival city. The map was co-created by community members of Wester Hailes, which is in South West Edinburgh, outside the central festival area. In terms of findings, projected and portrayed imagery from both stakeholder groups displayed shared semiotic characteristics of the festival city construct. Nevertheless, the distribution of imagery across urban space in the city varied between the groups. In exploring management and community stakeholders’ images of signs, and spaces, the chapter reflects upon the idealised view of the festival city, alongside its socio-cultural environment of inclusion and accessibility. Furthermore, it uncovers the semiotic narratives that sustain the visual culture, consumption, and place-myth of the festival city.
... Yet, far from being associated with festivals, it was viewed as a particularly sombre setting in comparison to some other European capitals. The city's identity was underpinned by the continuing influence of the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment; alongside the dominant institutional presence of the Church, and professions such as law and medicine (Bartie 2013). ...
... As leader of the new EIF, Bing sought to rekindle Glyndebourne through the establishment of a European arts festival. Edinburgh was however below Oxford, Bath, Chester, Cambridge and Canterbury on the list of cities he would have chosen to host this festival (Bartie 2013). Nevertheless, due to the forces at play, EIF was created, and has remained one of Edinburgh's leading festivals. ...
Chapter
Music festivals have the potential to connect people, foster tolerance and are therefore often perceived as inclusive spaces. At the same time, previous research has shown that festival spaces can be exclusionary spaces, where social inequalities are aggravated. While festivals have dynamics of their own, they are organised on the basis of a specific vision (mission statement) which translates into the programming, staffing, organization and marketing of a festival. Festival organisers play an important role in the creation of festival spaces and the mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. For positive encounters to occur within festivals and for people to share in the positive atmosphere of the festival, they must be planned and managed. This chapter therefore aims to explore to what extent and how music festival organisers deal with diversity in their everyday practices. We therefore investigate 1) discussing diversity: what meaning do festival organisers attach to the concept of diversity; 2) organising diversity: how they deal with diversity throughout the festival organisation process, and 3) implementing diversity: the difficulties and tensions perceived in making diverse festivals. This chapter is based on a study of ten music festivals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This city is often perceived as a festival city and a ‘superdiverse’ city, making it the perfect case to study dynamics of inclusion and exclusion as perceived by music festival organisers.
Conference Paper
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On behalf of the organizing committee, we are pleased to welcome you to the workshop Inclusive Innovation for Enhanced Local Experience in Tourism co-hosted by University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok, Thailand, British Council Researcher Links, Newton Fund and The Thailand Research Fund. The Research Links Workshop provides a unique opportunity for early career researchers from the United Kingdom, Thailand and internationally to share research expertise and network, exploring opportunities for building long-lasting collaborations related to inclusive innovations and new business models in tourism. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you will enjoy Thai hospitality while attending the workshop and have an unforgettable and rewarding stay in Phuket, Thailand. Dr. Endrit Kromidha Birmingham Business School School of Business University of Birmingham, United Kingdom Dr. Siripan Deesilatham University of Thai Chamber of Commerce United Kingdom Workshop Chair Bangkok, Thailand Thailand Workshop Chair
Article
This article attempts to discuss the delicate relationship between the arts and international politics and the instrumental role the arts may play in international relations. The paper sets the Cold War as the stage and uses the Edinburgh International Festival as the subject of research to trace the interplay between the arts and international relations. Specifically, the article answers the questions of how the festival was impacted by the changing international relations over the Cold War period and how the festival as an arts organization exerted influence on international politics.
Article
The book festival provides an intriguing instance of the overlapping cultural, social and economic dimensions of contemporary literary culture. This article proposes the application of a new conceptual framework, that of game-inspired thinking, to the study of book festivals. Game-inspired thinking uses games as metaphors that concentrate and exaggerate aspects of cultural phenomena in order to produce new knowledge about their operations. It is also an arts-informed methodology that offers a mid-level perspective between empirical case studies and abstract models. As a method, our Bookfestivalopoly and other games focus attention on the material, social and ideological dimensions of book festivals. In particular, they confirm the presence of neoliberal pressures and neocolonial inequalities in the “world republic of letters.” Our research thus makes a contribution to knowledge about the role of festivals within contemporary literary culture, and provides a model for researchers of cultural phenomena who may want to adopt game-inspired, arts-informed thinking as an alternative to traditional disciplinary methods.
Chapter
This chapter identifies the limitations of existing studies of literary festival audiences, and compares theoretical understandings of audience, readership, reader, and consumer, drawn from across literary studies and book history, media and communications studies, and theatre and performance studies, to develop a new conceptual framework for literary festival audience experience. These understandings are used to supplement and develop theorisations of the literary field, derived from the work of Pierre Bourdieu (The forms of capital. In: Richardson J (ed) Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. Greenwood, New York, pp 241–258, 1986; The rules of art (trans: Emanuel S). Polity Press, Cambridge, 1996; The field of cultural production. In: Finkelstein D, McCleery A (eds) The book history reader. Routledge, London/New York, pp 99–120, 2006), in order to account for the complex interplay between both interested and disinterested personal and political motivations for audience members’ attendance at literary festivals. Demonstrating that engagement with literary festivals can be productively modelled as social, cultural, communicative, and affective, this chapter expands on earlier understandings of literary festival audiences, and asserts the importance of understanding these audiences’ experiences as in many ways cognate with those of other live cultural events. In pulling together an interdisciplinary model for experience, this also paves the way for further studies of cross-media cultural engagement in subsequent chapters.
Research
Full-text available
AHRC-funded report on the impact of music festivals, including links to detailed annotated bibliography
Chapter
The publication of the Report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (hereafter the Wolfenden Report) in 1957 was the first major investigation by any national authority in Britain into homosexual behaviour. The report was indicative of reformist principles within government during the post-war period,1 and, as historians have argued, prompted the birth of gay liberation movements in Britain.2 The recommendations of the report, namely to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults in private, were implemented in the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 but, significantly, only in England and Wales. The debates ignited by the Wolfenden Report continued for over a further decade in relation to Scotland. This chapter explores the main reasons why the introduction of more permissive legislation was delayed or prevented in Scotland, focusing on debates held in the Houses of Parliament, newspaper discussions on homosexuality and the law in Scotland, and the experiences of gay and bisexual men (GBM) who lived during this period.
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