A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition
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A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition

Edited by Ruth Towse

The second edition of this widely acclaimed and extensively cited collection of original contributions by specialist authors reflects changes in the field of cultural economics over the last eight years. Thoroughly revised chapters alongside new topics and contributors bring the Handbook up to date, taking into account new research, literature and the impact of new technologies in the creative industries.
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Chapter 30: Festivals

Bruno S Frey


Bruno S. Frey Most cities or regions today have a festival of opera, theatre, cinema or some other form of art. The oldest contemporary music festival is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, dating back to 1724, followed by the Handel festivals in Westminster Abbey. Among the most acclaimed European music festivals are the Bayreuther Festspiele (since 1876), the Glyndebourne Festival, the Salzburger Festspiele and the Spoleto Festival of the Two Worlds. Some other famous festivals take place, for instance, in Edinburgh, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Würzburg, Lucerne, Verona and Bregenz. It is difficult to define which cultural activity is a festival and which is not. A particular festival may embody a number of quite different types of performances and may take place in various locations. It has nevertheless been estimated that there are between one and two thousand music festivals per year in Europe alone. This chapter concentrates on music festivals, but most arguments also apply to other kinds of festivals. The emphasis is on Europe, where most festivals are located; the situation in the USA is somewhat different, because a larger part of established artistic supply is privately organized and therefore the need for festivals is smaller. Much of the literature on festivals in cultural economics has been devoted to calculating the ‘impact effects’, that is, the multiplier effects generated by festivals on regional economic activity. In contrast, this text looks at the function of festivals themselves. It is useful to distinguish the various factors on...

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