The purpose of this paper is to address the gaps in research on strategic planning for the social impacts of small-scale events in rural areas and small cities. This is achieved by investigating the social utility inferred by small-scale art festivals with a creative tourism element in terms of increasing social capital and positive social change, from an event stakeholder perspective.Design/methodology/approachThe identified gap in knowledge is addressed by using interviews and fieldnotes from participant observation to co-create meaning with the organizers of four small-scale art festivals in small cities and rural areas in Portugal. Theoretical frameworks relating to creative tourism development and social capital creation are used to analyze the social utility of small-scale art festivals.FindingsCreative tourism activities are integrated within small-scale art festivals in small cities and rural areas in various ways, mainly through art-related workshops. Significant empirical data give insight into how small-scale art festivals create social value by increasing the host community’s pride and reinforcing the social fabric of the festival’s local and “portable” community, in part through these creative tourism activities.Research limitations/implicationsOne of the limitations of this study is that it focuses on the perspectives and insights of the festival organizers. An analysis of the festival participants’ views, local community stakeholder analysis and community impact analyses would offer further insights into how the creative tourism experiences and other moments of shared meaning generation within small-scale art festivals influence the creation of social utility.Originality/valueThis paper offers insights into how creative tourism activities are being integrated into small-scale art festivals in small cities and rural contexts, and how these activities foster social connections among festival participants and with the local community. This addresses significant gaps in the literature on strategic planning for the social impacts of events, particularly in the context of small-scale events in rural areas/small cities, and the strategic value of including creative tourism activities within small-scale festivals.
International Journal of Event and Festival Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 19, 2019
Keywords: Strategic planning; Social capital; Art; Creative tourism; Shared meaning; Small-scale festivals