Projectraisetheroof's Blog

first paper abstract!

Modes of Participation at the festival: the cultural contingency of the audience as observer.


Convivial celebrations reveal a wide spectrum of modes of reception: some dramatize the distinction between the audience and the artist and others blur the boundaries. This paper will draw upon indicative examples of festival participation in varying manifestations, from early-modern Roman Carnival through to an anthropological analysis of tribal celebration in Zimbabwe; as well as the author’s own field research at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. In light of these examples and the opposing interpretations of the audience in the context of the Rock/Pop festival of the 1960s and 70s, the contingency of the audience as observer is investigated.

‘Boutique’ festivals form a new and emergent sector of small provincial events that are reportedly pushing growth in the UK festival industry. As events that offer increasingly diverse aesthetic experiences, the Boutique event may be interpreted as popularizing art forms previously exclusive to the avant-guard. Fuelled by competition, innovative activities available at the Boutique event frequently position the audience as active participant as opposed to passive observer. Whether Boutique events as a contemporary phenomenon constitute evidence for an evolving festival audience, which ultimately points to the democratization of performance, will be explored as a final focus of the paper.


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  1. * Simon Robinsono says:

    To be honest I think the “boutique” festivals are taking off due to the personal/interactive side. Majority of large mainstream festivals I have attended have made me feel like “just another number” in the corperate wheel. Sponsorships everywhere you turn and being treated like a “herd of cattle” a lot of the time are huge downsides.

    With the smaller festival scene i was made to feel like it was organised for the people attending rather than their wallets. Also there seems to be a more local theme with a lot of events showing art work etc people have done especially for the event.

    I shall look forward to your final submission

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago

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