(Re)emerging trends: music festivals
In this article, Questia Group focuses on festivals. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform http://questia.ro covering 679 respondents. The survey was active between 4 and 6 July 2017. Our key findings are presented below.
Festivals are important for communities because they represent a showcase of culture and creativity, as well as the cornerstone of economic development strategies to attract tourists. In this sense, approaches to festival statistics include qualitative and quantitative data, ranging from sociological and leisure participation, community development, or tourism industries. The qualitative approach relies on ethnographic study, cultural mapping, and social media analysis, while the quantitative data can be used to develop a macro understanding of the role and impact of festivals on society, which can, in turn, inform policy on culture, development, and diversity; as well as project management, tourism development and cultural industries commercially-driven or not-for-profit (Tull, 2011). See more on this issue here.
Different countries have different approaches to festivals. For instance, it is difficult to separate religious festivals from cultural festivals in some countries; religious festivals are centered on the celebration of spiritually significant moments, but this may also feature cultural or heritage practices as in the case of Divali. However, research also highlights the economic and commercial impacts of festivals (Baker and Associates, 2007; Jura Consultants, 2006; Vrettos, 2006 to name a few).
The commercialization or commodification of music festivals has spurred many debates. For instance, Coachella has one of the most expensive general admission and VIP tickets ($819 a VIP pass in 2017), however, the price paid per artist is less than the cost of a bottle of water. Festival prices like house prices, appear to have become detached from reality: e.g, Glastonbury had a 52% increase price rate in 2015 since 2006, while Latitude a 103% increase in price rate. At the same time, the Burning Man festival – which aimed to bring thousands of people to an empty desert to create an alternative society, ban money and advertisements and create a gift economy and encourage members to bring the necessary ingredients of this new world with them, according to their ability – failed to create this concept. All these show that instead of bringing people together, these types of festivals might divide segments of populations.
Criticism or not, the overall audience at music festivals has raised over the years. A music study at the UK level found that audience numbers had hit 30.9 million, up from 27.7 million in 2015, with 4 million people attending the ever-growing number of British music festivals in 2016.
Asked in what activities will they engage this summer, respondents said they will go on a trip in Romania or outside it (72.5%), but also enjoy a “staycation” (48.9%), or visit the countryside (38.6%). Festival going enjoyed a lower level (26.1%) than other cultural activities like visiting museums, cinemas or theaters (29.7%).
Out of those who will attend a concert this summer, Untold has the highest attendance level (41.8%), followed by Neversea (29.9%) which took place this weekend, and Electric Castle (26.6%), which can be found in one of The Guardian’s summer guide for music festivals.
Most respondents agree to a very great extent and to a great extent (83.2%) that there should be a greater variety of types of festivals/concerts in Romania. Perhaps this need for diversity stems from less expensive and more inclusive festivals, not only in urban centers but also in other communities.
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