Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Regeneration
By Greg Richards and Robert Palmer, Elsevier, Oxford, 2010
The book Eventful Cities: Cultural Management and Urban Revitalisation by Greg Richards and Robert Palmer takes an in-depth look at the way in which cities create events, and events in turn create cities. The basic argument of the book is that events must be seen as more than a one-off spectacle or a chance for citizens to party. Rather than thinking about events in isolation, the authors argue, cities need to think about the development of 'eventfulness' as part of the cultural DNA of the city. If approached as part of a long-term strategy, events can provide a catalyst for re-thinking the city and its cultural and social life and making it a better place to live in.
Utilizing their experience of organizing and analyzing events such as the ECoC (Robert Palmer was Director of the events staged in Glasgow in 1990 and Brussels in 2000), the authors explain how cities can go about creating new cultural programmes and developing them into effective tools for urban revitalization. They consider issues such as programming, managing and marketing events, developing an event vision and strategy, measuring the impacts of events and legacy planning. They also identify a number of critical success factors for eventful cities, such as:
Put culture first – don’t devalue events by only chasing economic benefits.
The event programme should be clearly linked to place, based on the authentic culture and creativity of the city, not just copied from elsewhere.
Leadership and political will are essential. A clear vision needs to be created for the event programme and what it will deliver for the city and its citizens.
The event programme should involve all the stakeholders in the city, and provide a platform for partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The event programme needs adequate resources – not just financial, but also the human resources and ‘orgware’ to make it a success.
All of these aspects require careful planning, with a long-term vision for the city as a whole providing clear objectives for the event programme.
Even within a planned strategy, room needs to be created for risk-taking. Risk-free event programmes are boring, predictable and will soon lose their appeal.
The authors stress there is no magic formula for developing the Eventful City, and each city really needs to start building an event programme from its own strengths and cultural identity. But with a more strategic approach, many cities could compete more successfully to stage to events such as the ECoC, and employ the resulting beneficial effects to improve the lives of their citizens as well as boosting the local economy.
Contact: Greg Richards, Department of Leisure Studies, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands; tel.: +31-13-466-4069; fax +31-13-466-3002; www.uvt.nl/webwijs/show/?uid=g.w.richards