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HomeNoticiasHouse ideas on festive events – Simon Frith |

House ideas on festive events – Simon Frith |


Dwell Music Trade Weblog


In our newest weblog publish, Dwell Music Trade co-founder Professor Simon Frith OBE displays on the historical past of festivals, together with how they’ve been studied, and considers the implications of Covid-19 for his or her future.

This 12 months’s Ruisrock Pageant, held yearly in Turku in Finland, was scheduled for July 3-5. It was first staged in 1970 and to have a good time its fiftieth anniversary, Kari Kallionemi from the College of Turku organised a examine day at which I used to be invited to talk. My matter was to be the historical past of rock festivals. Within the occasion the examine day, just like the pageant, was referred to as off.

On Might 13, the Guardian reported: “The British unbiased pageant sector is susceptible to collapsing, with many cancelled occasions falling by the cracks of presidency assist measures for companies struggling because of the coronavirus disaster.” The story was based mostly on an Affiliation of Impartial Festivals (AIF) survey of its members: 92% stated that they confronted prices that might wreck their companies because of cancelled occasions, with nearly all (98.5%) not coated by insurance coverage for cancellation associated to Covid-19. The sector was dealing with redundancies of 59% on common and was on observe to lose greater than half of its workforce between September 2020 and February 2021. As AIF identified, “the overwhelming majority of our members are targeted on the supply of 1 single massive occasion throughout the whole 12 months, and that’s all been worn out.”

The misplaced summer time of festivals will undoubtedly have a big impact on the stay music sector usually. Agent Matt Bates instructed the Guardian that touring musicians would lose as much as two-thirds of their stay earnings from pageant cancellations. For individuals who aren’t among the many superstars who play arenas, “having no festivals to play this summer time has completely destroyed their earnings and their livelihoods”.[i]

Quickly after studying this I got here throughout a weblog by viola famous person Lawrence Energy, reflecting on how his life had all of a sudden modified.

I can’t get my head round how we’re going to return to travelling around the world as freely as earlier than. A optimistic end result is likely to be that it means we have now to focus our music making far more regionally, in a neighborhood means. Fortunately that’s one thing I really like anyway: I’ve my very own pageant, the West Wycombe Chamber Music Pageant, and that’s our ethos. It’s small and put collectively at very quick discover, however we have now an incredible viewers, and improbable pals and colleagues do it on that foundation.

I really feel embarrassed that I don’t do extra regionally, as a result of I’m all the time going away to make music. This case would possibly power us to assume. I’m positive that inside a mile radius of the place all of us stay, every of us may begin a fantastic live performance collection. Perhaps a by-product of that is that we have now to have interaction shut by. If I’ve to remain in a single place, I’d be joyful to embrace that.[ii]

For AIF the problem is how its members can survive whereas ready for his or her websites to reopen. Lawrence Energy asks a distinct query: not how will we to return to enterprise as regular however will we need to.

In making ready my historic discuss for the Ruisrock occasion I used to be struck by how broadly its enterprise mannequin is now taken as a right. Within the final 25 years rock festivals, loosely outlined and understood, have come to play the lead position not solely within the worldwide economics of stay music but additionally, as a consequence, in worldwide stay music scholarship. Festivals appear to draw extra tutorial consideration throughout extra disciplines than some other in style music matter. In an try and carry order to this mass of fabric I categorised it beneath 4 headings.

  • Economics (together with work on advertising and marketing, tourism, leisure research, occasion administration and native financial growth). That is to method the pageant as a commodity.
  • Sociology (together with cultural research, youth and ageing research and ethnography). That is to method the pageant as a ceremony.
  • Politics (together with work on regulation, regulation, coverage and beliefs). That is to method the pageant as a setting for disputes and causes.
  • Psychology (together with work on id and wellbeing). That is to method the pageant as an expertise.

Lacking from a lot of this work is a way of historical past and, specifically, an appreciation of two primary historical past classes. First, issues change: there weren’t rock festivals in Finland earlier than 1970 and there’s no necessity for there to be rock festivals in Finland after 2020. Second, issues don’t change. Music festivals existed lengthy earlier than rock and can exist lengthy after it. What’s at present assumed to be the best way festivals should be is, within the lengthy view, merely a second within the historical past of festivals, a second that might now be coming to an finish.

To take a look at rock festivals traditionally is to disclose the contradictory dynamics of their evolution. On the one hand, staging festivals is a particularly dangerous enterprise, with failure all the time attainable: most rock festivals don’t survive for 50 years; however, only a few of those festivals had been conceived as one-off occasions. They had been deliberate to occupy an annual date within the calendar for the foreseeable future.

Some years in the past LMX was requested to supply skilled proof in a courtroom case, a contract dispute involving an annual pageant. The dispute was finally settled out of courtroom however not earlier than we had ready our assertion. The query we had been requested was easy: what was the probably life expectancy of a longtime rock pageant? Emma Webster and Adam Behr approached this by making a complete survey of why rock festivals fail. They discovered many causes, such because the Icelandic ash cloud in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012, however the commonest had been dangerous climate and poor ticket gross sales. Our ‘skilled’ judgement (we had been anticipated to provide a determine, nonetheless tentatively) was that the pageant in query may have moderately been anticipated to final, in its present kind, for an additional 25 years. We didn’t anticipate Covid-19 however we had been conscious that the specter of an epidemic was one thing to incorporate in pageant organisers’ threat registers. Extra importantly we understood that festivals are a part of the stay music ecology; over time they should adapt to all kinds of developments within the stay music financial system.

Folks do, however, anticipate festivals yearly to return as occasions which are acquainted. In our stay music historical past we cowl the launch of the Edinburgh Worldwide and Aldeburgh Festivals, the Sidmouth and Cambridge Festivals, the Glastonbury and Studying Festivals, WOMAD and the Brecon Jazz Pageant. These occasions grew to become so deeply embedded within the cultural calendar that earlier than the coronavirus struck nobody appeared to doubt that they’d proceed without end, though, as we additionally doc, they’ve in actual fact all confronted critical threats to their survival and to outlive have needed to settle for new methods of doing issues.

There’s an underlying historic narrative right here, an evolution of huge occasions from the post-war state subsidised mannequin of the humanities pageant, by the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties growth of jazz, folks and free festivals into Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties consolidation of the rock pageant, to the flip of the century emergence of giant worldwide dance occasions like Creamfields and Tomorrowland. However there has additionally all the time been an unlimited number of small occasions, some rooted within the lengthy custom of harvest festivals, village exhibits and seaside vacation leisure, others (akin to Lawrence Energy’s West Wycombe chamber music pageant) organised by performers or by lovers for specific kinds of music. It’s as if there’s a fixed stream of festivals in Britain from which generally, with the appropriate confluence of financial and cultural circumstances, one sort of occasion – Glastonbury, say – bubbles as much as the floor and attracts business funding, mass media protection and tutorial consideration earlier than turning into a taken-for-granted routine or sinking again down among the many myriad of gatherings out of the general public eye.

From this attitude the important qualities of all festivals are these.

  • They supply a way of neighborhood, nonetheless that’s outlined and skilled.
  • They’re celebrations, whether or not of holidays, coming of age, or just as a gathering of like-minded folks, and carnivals, occasions outwith on a regular basis social norms and conventions.
  • They’re settings for native commerce and commerce (and lots of festivals routinely contain musical competitions and prizes).

A method to have a look at the historical past of what grew to become often called rock festivals, then, is to look at how they’ve retained the mandatory parts of neighborhood, celebration and small-scale commerce within the context of digital expertise, mass advertising and marketing and the company pursuit of revenue.[iii] However additionally it is to understand that Covid-19 now threatens a pageant mannequin that was, maybe, already reaching its safe-to-use-by date, as environmentalists have been suggesting for a while.[iv] Wouldn’t it matter if the Glastonbury Pageant had been by no means staged once more? Do we would like Ruisrock to have a good time its a centesimal anniversary?

What the present disaster has made me realise is {that a} pageant is a remarkably versatile means of parading neighborhood ties and cultural expectations and, in its carnival parts, loosening and poking enjoyable at them. Festivals have performed this social position for a lot of centuries. Societies change; festivals mirror the modifications. Fairly than despairing that our favorite festivals might by no means occur once more within the ways in which we’ve acquired used to, we ought to be wanting ahead to new festivals occurring in new methods, in ways in which we presently can’t think about.



[iii] This can be a theme in the perfect tutorial examine of rock festivals in Britain, Chris Anderton’s 2018 Music Festivals within the UK. Past the Carnivalesque.

[iv] See for instance Abigail Dunn’s LMX weblog:




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