“Inclusive festivals – can there be such a thing?” one participant wrote on Twitter. The symposium was one step in the direction to finding out.


Festspace discussions- image by Niclas Hell

CCSE hosted a symposium on the HERA-funded (Humanities in the European Research Area) FESTSPACE project on UWS’s Paisley campus on the 14th of June. The full-day event offered insights of the project as well as panel discussions and interactive sessions on the inclusivity of public space within the context of festivals and events.

Representatives from urban planning, local government, and event managers joined the researchers from the partner universities in discussions about how festivals can be or become inclusive. The morning panel stressed the importance of public, police, and political support for festivals to be successful and mutual trust between actors as a crucial factor. This was also stressed by Francesca Hegyi, whose key note with insights from the Hull 2017 UK City of Culture gave an urban regeneration perspective on the issue.

Researchers from universities in Paisley, Glasgow, London, Dublin, Barcelona, and Gothenburg are engaged in FESTSPACE, sharing insights on how cities in Western Europe have used or tried to use festivals as a means of social inclusion. Led by FESTSPACE researchers, interactive sessions filled the afternoon with discussions about visibility, identity, and sociability of public space in relation to festivals and events. Problems of socially stratified participation were discussed, as well as solutions related to incentivisation of groups seldom taking part in large cultural events.

As the FESTSPACE research project continues, other partner universities will host symposia. This symposium was the first event since the launch event in Dublin earlier this spring. To read more about the project, visit the HERA website and take a look at the FESTSPACE website. 

A summary Wakelet of online #Festspace discussions has also been created about the event by CCSE researcher, Alison McCandlish.