Press Release: UWS researchers win funding to explore the cultural impact of festivals and events

Press Release: UWS researchers win funding to explore the cultural impact of festivals and events

Researchers from University of the West of Scotland (UWS) have been awarded £543,717 (€627,954) funding from Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) to study the cultural impact of festivals and events held in public spaces.  

The University of the West of Scotland will lead the project, which will also involve leading academics from University of Westminster, Technological University Dublin, University of Gothenburg and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

The FESTSPACE project will explore how festivals and events create or restrict access to public spaces, and the ways in which they bring together people from different cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds in Glasgow, Dublin, Gothenburg and Barcelona. Nine non-academic partners are also involved in the two-year research programme, including Glasgow Life, European Festivals Association and Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG), ensuring researchers have access to current strategies and plans to facilitate the research.

It is hoped non-academic partners will be able to use the findings of the two-year project to inform future cultural event strategies and planning.

The project was selected by HERA alongside 19 other projects from 220 initial applications, with €20 million funding awarded in total to projects around the theme: ‘Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe’.

 Professor David McGillivray, Project Lead and Professor at the School of Media, Culture and Society at UWS, said: “Scotland’s cities are playing host to more outdoor festivals and events than ever before, with local authorities beginning to see the wider benefits of bringing diverse communities together.  “Our research will examine the ways in which various publics interact with public spaces, the impact outdoor festivals and events have on communities, and their ability to encourage inclusion.

People have personal connections to festivals and events, as seen in the recent backlash to Electric Fields moving from Drumlanrig to Glasgow, giving weight to the theory that these events are central to community identity and social cohesion.”  

Professor Wojchiech Sowa, Chair of HERA, said: “This is the fourth joint research programme we have launched, funding new and exciting humanities-centred projects and supporting transnational collaboration. “With the theme of ‘public spaces’ we hope to deepen cultural understanding of public spaces in a European context and identify new insights that promote the full potential of citizens’ engagement with cultural spaces.”

Some of the projects receiving funding as part of the HERA programme include:

  • EEYRASPS, which will explore the issue of refugee youth, public space and integration in Europe.
  • FOOD2GATHER, which will investigate the role that food plays in creating public spaces, shaping opportunities for communication.
  • PSPR, a project that will investigate the impact of intoxicants on public spaces between c.1600 and 185
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