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Chapter 9 Festival Leadership in Turbulent Times

DOI: 10.23912/978-1-910158-15-9-2660

ISBN: 978-1-910158-15-9

Published: January 2015

Component type: chapter

Published in: Focus On Festivals

Parent DOI: 10.23912/978-1-910158-15-9-2599



Europe is undergoing a period of transformational political change, with the post-war centre-left consensus that dominated the western nations breaking down and being replaced by a neo-liberal belief in the importance of markets in service delivery and a corresponding reduction in state intervention. Combine this with the financial crisis, which has meant cuts to arts and culture budgets in the UK, Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Hungary amongst others. Add in a touch of technologically driven change and then stop to consider the political, economic and social changes arising from the Arab Spring and the growing economic strength of Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan on Europe’s borders. There are opportunities and threats for all arts and cultural organisations, but what does this mean for festivals’ leaders in particular? What do they see as the main issues? How are these issues affecting their vision, production and programming polices, their staff, funding, audience development and stakeholder relationships? In times of great turbulence, leaders are the pathfinders who establish new ways of working. In Europe the auteur tradition has placed artistic leadership at the centre of decision-making, both within festivals themselves and amongst funders. Festivals’ artistic directors are often independent cultural intermediaries, standing apart from the establishment but commenting on it; influencing both their own organisations and wider debates about legitimacy and value (Smith Maguire and Matthews, 2012). This is combined with the tendency of festival organisations to be quite small and entrepreneurial, operating what Handy (1999) calls ‘power cultures’, reliant on a central figure with a strong vision to make decisions. At their best, with visionary leaders, such organisations can create strong, supportive cultures that are flexible and that can react quickly to social, political and economic change. How then are these weather vanes responding to the post 2008 turbulent social and economic times in Europe?

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  • Jennie Jordan (Author)

For the source title:

  • Chris Newbold, De Montfort University (Editor)
  • Christopher Maughan, Freelance writer (Editor)
  • Jennie Jordan, De Montfort University (Editor)
  • Franco Bianchini, Leeds Beckett University (Editor)

Cite as

Jordan, 2015

Jordan, J. (2015) "Chapter 9 Festival Leadership in Turbulent Times" In: Newbold, C., Maughan, C., Jordan, J. & Bianchini, F. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/978-1-910158-15-9-2660


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