Grassroots festival keeps city alive during severe drought

Mason, Andrew and Scollen, Rebecca (2018) Grassroots festival keeps city alive during severe drought. Journal of Place Management and Development, 11 (3). pp. 266-276. ISSN 1753-8335


Purpose - This paper aims to discuss the role of a grassroots initiative in engaging local people in an innovative place-making fringe festival. Festivals such as the Carnival of Flowers are a major tourism event for regional cities like Toowoomba and contribute to place-making through marketing and engagement. Within the professional management of such events, there exists space for innovation and genuine community involvement, which can assist in authentically reflecting place identity. Avant Garden (2007-2008) models a successful grassroots fringe festival, initiated by community members in response to the challenge of long-term drought. Avant Garden engaged locals and tourists in a positive re-imagining of place via site-specific public artworks generated by the community.

Design/methodology/approach - A survey of 504 visitors to Toowoomba’s public gardens during the first weekend of the 2007 Carnival of Flowers examined how Avant Garden was received by the community.

Findings - The paper suggests that fringe festivals can provide place-making capacity in broadening festivals as an expression of local identity. Fringe festivals can allow authentic community engagement within a mainstream festival and can indicate longer-term innovations to place branding.

Practical implications - The paper includes implications for festival managers about effective ways to engage community in grassroots initiatives which reflect innovation, authenticity and greater diversity.

Originality/value - The paper provides a study of a visual arts fringe festival in the context of place management. The project described allows a 'bottom up' approach to engaging the local community which provides authenticity and broadens the scope of an existing mainstream garden festival.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Arts and Communication
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2018 00:21
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2019 02:24
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australia, community, tourism, drought, fringe festival, public art
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190504 Performance and Installation Art
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190502 Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 90 Commercial Services and Tourism > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft)
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1108/JPMD-06-2017-0059

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