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Animation or Denigration? Using Urban Public Spaces as Event Venues

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City events are increasingly staged outside purpose-built venues in urban public spaces. Parks, streets, and squares have always been used for civic events, but there is now pressure to use them for a wider range of occasions including large-scale, ticketed events. This article identifies why this trend is occurring and outlines the implications for public spaces. The use of London's parks as venues for music festivals, elite sport events, and trade exhibitions is the main focus of the article. These events challenge the established functions and meanings of public parks. Noted positive effects include challenging the rather stiff character of Victorian parks and encouraging different users/uses. However, ticketed events restrict access to parks and various processes currently afflicting urban public spaces—privatization, commercialization, and securitization—are exacerbated when parks are used as event venues. These effects are often dismissed as inherently temporary, but staging events can have enduring effects on the provision and accessibility of public space. The article concludes that staging events in public spaces is increasingly driven by a neoliberal agenda, with place marketing and revenue generation key priorities. This needs to be more fully acknowledged in analyses of the eventful city.
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Keywords: CITIES; COMMERCIALIZATION; FESTIVALS; LONDON; PARKS; PRIVATIZATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2017

More about this publication?
  • Event Management, an International Journal, intends to meet the research and analytic needs of a rapidly growing profession focused on events. This field has developed in size and impact globally to become a major business with numerous dedicated facilities, and a large-scale generator of tourism. The field encompasses meetings, conventions, festivals, expositions, sport and other special events. Event management is also of considerable importance to government agencies and not-for-profit organizations in a pursuit of a variety of goals, including fund-raising, the fostering of causes, and community development.
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