Reinventing Rural Places: The Extent and Significance of Rural and Regional Festivals in Australia

TitleReinventing Rural Places: The Extent and Significance of Rural and Regional Festivals in Australia
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2009
Prepared forAustralian Research Council
DateJuly 2009
InstitutionUniversity of Wollongong
Other Author AffiliationsChris Gibson;Anna Stewart
ISBN Number978-0-646-51505-2

Against a backdrop of rural decline, many places have sought to reinvigorate community and stimulate economic development, through staging festivals. Rural festivals have proliferated and diversified in recent years from the traditional country show to evermore diverse niches. Are such festivals significant for rural communities in contrast to their apparent short-lived nature? The ARC festivals project sought to answer this question. From 2005-2008 we examined festivals in rural and regional Australia through a database profile of festivals across three states (NSW, Victoria and Tasmania), surveys with several hundred festival organisers, and in-depth case study research on the economic and cultural significance of festivals.
Specifically, the project’s three stated aims were to:
1. profile the extent of festivals and whether they have been incorporated into regeneration strategies
2. assess the economic impact of festivals on specific places, in light of the hypothesis that festivals
are a mechanism to encourage rural and regional economic revitalisation
3. examine the social and cultural impacts of rural and regional festivals.
This report summarises results from our project, including detailed breakdown of our database of nearly 3000 festivals, analysis of results of surveys completed by 480 festival organisers, and insights provided by dozens of individual festivals and communities who participated in the research.