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This report is the third main deliverable of the EURO-FESTIVAL project on ‗Arts Festivals and European Public Culture‘.

The EURO-FESTIVAL project is a contribution to the comparative cultural sociology of contemporary European society. Its aim is to examine the role of festivals as sites of trans-national identifications and democratic debate. The project answers to the terms of reference of task 5.2.2 of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) Programme of the 7th RTD Framework Programme (7FP). Task 5.2.2 is concerned with the origins, role and impact of creativity, ‗especially in the context of literature and the arts‘ (SSH Work Programme, p.29) and the role of the latter ‗in influencing democratic debate‘ (ibid.).

An essential feature of democracy is debate. This has often been related to the notion of the public sphere (Calhoun 1992, Habermas 1996, Giorgi et al. 2006). A much neglected aspect of this is the aesthetic public sphere or aesthetic public culture. Unlike other social and cultural institutions such as ‗the church‘ (religion), ‗the school‘ (education) or ‗the community centre‘ (the local) that have been widely explored in democratic terms as sites of both identity formation and/or discursive practice, the aesthetic public culture comprising artistic expressions and performances has received little attention from this angle. This is probably because culture and the arts were – and often still are – considered primarily as depictions of social reality. The recognition that they are autonomous social fields (and to be treated as such by social theory and empirical investigation) is long-established in cultural sociology but not as yet in democratic studies. If however, following Chaney (2002) we acknowledge that ‗cultural objects of performance are shifting from functioning as representations or depictions of social life to constituting the contexts or terms of everyday life‘ (p.163), their exploration as public spaces and constituent elements of the democratic public sphere becomes imperative.

 

the overall aim of the project is to analyze the way in which mixed- or single-arts festivals constitute sites of cultural expression and performance of relevance for European identity-in-the-making and for the European public sphere. More specifically, the project objectives are to:

 

  • Explore how festivals use aesthetic forms to symbolize, represent and communicate social and political life from the perspective of different actors, including programme directors, funding promoters, performing artists and the audience.
  • Study the way in which festivals frame the discourse of identity in relation to arts with particular attention to the local / national / supra-national and local / global interfaces as well as the conundrum of difference (diversity) and similarity.
  • Analyze how festivals represent sites of competition for access to resources, status and power and how this competition impacts on debates about representation, openness and the public sphere.
This third deliverable D3 of the Euro-Festival project comprises thick case study descriptions of the thirteen festivals studied in depth by the project, namely:
  • Literature—the Hay, Berlin and Borderlands festivals
  • Music—the Umbria Jazz, Womad and Sónar festivals
  • Film—the Cannes, Venice, Berlin film festivals and the Vienna Jewish film festival
  • Urban mixed arts—the Brighton, Venice Biennale and Vienna festivals
The objective of the research was to throw light on the organizational dynamics and symbolic representation strategies of arts festivals. This analysis, which concentrates on the present situation, builds on and enlarges the more historical approach of the previous deliverable D2 of the project. The research results represent the first comprehensive cultural sociological mapping of artistic festival culture in Europe today.

 

 

 

Authors
Liana Giorgi,  Marco Santoro,  Marco Solaroli,  Paolo Magaudda,  Alba Colombo,  Jasper Chalcraft,  Jerome Segal,  Monica Sassatelli,  Elias Berner
Editors
Liana Giorgi
  
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