Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

From Urban Consumption to Production: Rethinking the Role of Festivals in Urban Development Through Co-Creation

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Abstract:  Festivals infuse art and culture into the physical transformation of public spaces to support economic development, social capital, and urban vibrancy. Although these impacts align with urban planning, these projects typically engage actors outside the field such as community organisations, businesses, and artists, reflecting cultural and creative economies, where different values, motivations, and practices are continually negotiated through processes of co-creation. However, institutional planning practices have not yet effectively engaged with cultural production processes to maximise the social, cultural, and economic impacts of arts-led development. To explore this potential, this research uses participatory, co-productive methodologies to analyse the Bristol Light Festival, a collaborative partnership between business interests, city staff, and creative producers. The article begins with a discussion of the often contradictory role festivals play in urban development, followed by a discussion of creative and cultural ecologies and an overview of the co-creation process. Drawing on festival participant survey and interview data, the article discusses how the festival generated new forms of belonging in the city and other impacts that are often invisible within dominant arts-led development strategies. The article concludes with a discussion of findings relating cultural ecologies and co-creation to urban planning practice.

Keywords:  co-creation; co-production; festivals; networks; urban planning; value



© Nicole Foster. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.