Thanks to GoParks who highlighted interesting ongoing research regarding events and festivals in parks by Dr Andrew Smith (Reader in the School of Architecture + Cities at the University of Westminster) and Dr Goran Vodicka (Research Fellow in the School of Architecture and Cities) which could help Park Friends and Park Managers plan, organise and deliver better events. Their work is part of a wider examination of this issue for Festspace.
It offers some great thoughts, research and insight into what is becoming a contentious issue. Pre-lockdown the number and size of events in parks and open spaces was increasing, particularly in London.
Events taking place in open green spaces generate useful money for Councils:
“These events can earn local authorities six figure sums from hire fees, meaning some parks are now entirely funded by the music festivals they host.”
But local communities can be significantly disadvantaged:
“not just obvious issues with noise and anti-social behaviour, but the significant restrictions they impose on public access before, during and after festivals. There are also concerns about environmental impacts, with damage to turf disrupting access for as much as 6 months post event.”
The research argues that the ways events are planned, and who is involved in organising them, are as important as the occasions themselves. Involving local people in events encourages engagement with other people and allows community groups a stake in the ways their parks are experienced, represented and managed. They say local groups should be encouraged to work together on events, encouraging positive collaboration and communication. By co-producing park events, local communities contribute to the co-production of parks.
Read the full article here: https://www.goparks.london/articles/foof-for-thought-on-festivals-and-events-in-parks-and-greenspaces/
Further reading featuring Dr Smith on this topic: “London Parks accused of creeping privitisation of public spaces” (2018 Guardian article)
And a piece on the Historic England website: The tyranny of the temporary.