For three days in the hot July sun of Bournemouth event studies researchers, academics and industry professionals gathered for a broad and diverse mix of presentations, discussions and the occasional trip to the beach. You can read up on the BU conference coverage here (featuring a rapt audience listening to yours truly!), with further resources available via the conference Twitter feed. Many of the talks are on YouTube.
I’m going to publish four posts from the event, with three taken directly from the notes that I took during each day’s keynote talks and discussions (one, two, three). This post here is based around notes taken from some of the break out sessions and papers presented by participants and delegates. This one is also special because it features a photo of the beach and some blue south coast water.
Day one papers
Nigel Williams (Bournemouth University)
Nigel spoke on ‘3D Events’ and the role of social media. Much of his research is based on using social media data, which is cheaper and a way to show evidence of meeting event objectives. Social capital themes are present in his work, based around SNA analysis of maps, nodes, connectors and so on. Chosen focal festival was #LoveLuton, which had brought together existing and new events to create a new festival. Twitter was the chosen social medium, being the ‘most democratic’ and the assumed public nature of all open tweets – it was all therefore deemed to be available for use. Data was captured using Tweet Archivist and visualised using NodeXL. It enabled groups to be found and conclusions to be reached in relation to the festival’s stated goals. For the future it was felt that more tweets are including geographical data, enabling more complex analysis. In the Q and A ethics was discussed in relation to using these data; hashtags are apparently in decline; it is difficult to extract the ’signal from the noise’.
Katja Pasanan (University of East Finland)
Katja also looked at social media, specifically the ways in which it is used by festival managers in their new service development efforts. Social media enables customers to have a role in this NSD process, accelerating the process through engagement. Few festivals were seen to have a strategy however and marketing was their main use for s/m, rather that development work. Facebook is the most commonly used platform, but very little on Trip Advisor despite its importance to the tourism market.
Matt Frew (Bournemouth University)
Matt looked at Burning Man. We’re all going to burn…
Day two papers
Jenny Flinn (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Jenny looked at the Exit Festival and its role in re-imaging Novi Sad in Serbia. The research data came from press articles written about the festival since the 1990s, tracking its connection to images of Serbia and the Balkans in that time. As the country has opened up and perceptions have changed the festival has become more mainstream and no longer positions itself as a protest movement to the same extent. Coverage of the festival is also shifting, looking less at its past and more towards its future. In the UK press Exit is often presented as a cheaper and warmer alternative to British festivals.
Matt Frew (Bournemouth University)
Matt demonstrated the importance and validity of linking events research with well established theoretical works, such as Zizek, Bourdieu and many others that regularly feature in his work. The importance of technology – both to teaching and in our experiences of the world around us – was explored with great passion. A ‘hyper-experiential’ reality, going beyond Pine and Gilmour.
Raphaela Stadtler (Griffith University, Brisbane)
In her work Raphaela spoke about knowledge transfers within festival organisations, both formal and informal. Questions of how do you manage knowledge within such organisations, creating know-how and integrating documents, staff meetings, informal meetings and so on. This is the culmination of her PhD work, based on ethnographic data accumulated through time spent working for the Queensland Jazz Festival: the lived experience of a festival volunteer. As such she has been seeking to ‘make visible’ the standard practices engaged in by staff.
Day three papers
Robert Kielty (Glasgow Caledonian University)
Robert fronted a presentation that had been developed between a number of people, including Jenny Flinn. At its core is a story of the professionalisation of rugby union and the shifts in power, policy and politics that have accompanied it. The power of the ‘top eight’ nations is clear to see, leading to discussions about ‘scalar relations’ between the core and the periphery. Economically there is much to be said about the ways these top nations are seeking to keep the profits from the Rugby World Cup between themselves, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming Japanese RWC. Are they doing enough to keep the game visible after the Cup has been and gone?
For my own part I presented on the theme of social networks at cultural festivals. A PDF of the slides follows…