Call for papers: Festivals, public space and inclusion in the post-pandemic city

Call for papers: Festivals, public space and inclusion in the post-pandemic city

Technological University Dublin City Centre Campus
10 Mar 2022

Since 2019, the team of Festspace researchers based in Barcelona, Dublin, Glasgow, Gothenburg and London has been studying festivals staged in European public spaces, exploring how festivals change space and querying the role they play in making public space more inclusive.

As we all know, the COVID 19 pandemic radically disrupted festival and event activities during 2020 and into 2021. Although varying by jurisdiction, public health guidelines curtailed people’s ability to gather communally and interact socially. Strict controls were imposed on personal mobility, with people being restricted to the private spaces of their homes and immediate surroundings during the worst of the crisis. All of this had detrimental effects on festival and event activities and greatly affected peoples’ perceptions of, and relationships with, public space. The shape of the research project changed in response to the effects of the pandemic and as the project draws to a close, the context of the post-COVID 19 future looms large. To debate what the future holds, the Festspace team is delighted to invite you to its Festivals, Public Space and Inclusion in the Post-Pandemic city conference in Dublin, on March 10th, 2022.


This CfP seeks papers that critically consider what the relationship between festivals, public space and inclusion will look like post-COVID. Will it be back to business as usual, and a resurgence of the tensions that had come to characterise public discourses about festivals in cities? Will we see an intensification of pressures on public space as local authorities, private entities and community actors claim public space for a range of commercial, recreational, transport and other uses? How will cities plan for and manage such competing claims? Will there be an emergence of new types of event spaces that build on some of the tendencies seen during the pandemic – the rise of neighbourhood, localised events; events that programme mobility into staging or consumption; spontaneous /reactive events that are led from the bottom-up? And how will people socialise in communal settings? Will festivals staged in public space still create opportunities for sociability, for creating casual encounters that build familiarity with ‘others’?

Both conceptual and empirical papers are invited on topics related to:
• Staging festivals in public space after the pandemic
• Planning/designing city space for festivals post-COVID
• Festival/event governance
• Challenging cultural boundaries in festival settings
• Changing social habits and festival consumption
• Neighbourhood space and community festivals
• Claiming/reclaiming space through festivals
• Festivals, events and digital public space
• Festivals, hybridization and hybrid public space

We plan for this conference to take place physically on Technological University Dublin’s city campus. Should this not be possible because of public health advice, the event will be moved online.

Abstracts (300 words) of papers should be sent by November 30th 2021 to Bernadette.quinn@tudublin.ie. Notification of paper acceptance will be sent by December 15th 2021.
Further details about the conference will soon be made available on the Festspace website.