Festivals are great socio-cultural gatherings, advocating all-inclusiveness and solidarity in a community. The Sherp has mused about this before – how music festivals are the holy grail of the millennial and the post-millennial generations, since the beginning of the Woodstock era back in ’69. This sense of uninhibited togetherness, where a group of strangers come together with a shared sense of understanding and respect for the music, art, culture, or environment that they’re in, is what is coveted by – if not all – then most of us in a community.
However, these wonderful events are more than that. Abandoning the age-old ethos of “art, for the sake of art”, festivals, for many years now, have been cultivating jobs, resources, and more – harbouring a little economy of their own.
“Woodstock, oddly enough, became the beginning of all the bad places to play […] Once promoters saw how many people they could draw into a football stadium, and charge $50 a ticket, rock and roll went down fast.” – Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane
Burning Man, a traditionally “anti-capitalist” event, generated around $25 million in 2014 ticket sales alone. Fans not only spend money in a venue or onsite, they also help to increase spending within the local communities. Music and culture festivals garner a substantial amount of revenue every year. Apart from ticket sales, most festivals have corporate sponsorship, vendors, tourism, among other things to maintain their economics. While festivals are not a sure-fire economic booster to regional economies, they definitely make for a massive business. We’re not here to uncover the (presumably) money-hoarding underbelly of the festival industry, we’re here to talk about how festivals having their own economies adds more layers to their social, economic and cultural benefits.
“It’s beneficial for everyone beause it extends the tourism season and the revenue helps improve infrastructure.” – Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Iceland
(Source: Iceland Airwaves/ruv.is)
Festivals like Coachella, undeniably massive, are incredible for their local communities, bringing over 3,000 temporary jobs and roughly $254 million dollars in revenue. If you were to look it up, we’re positive you’d find more accurate statistical semantics, but that’s not what we’re discussing here. Festivals, apart from being community gatherings that fuel our sense of social cohesion, also largely impact the local and global economy.
Festivals like Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, and Hornbill in Nagaland bring a slew of jobs, vendors, tourism, and consequently, economic value to the festival. Ziro is primarily home to the Apatanis – simple, friendly and hospitable people with an interesting culture and legacy. They are a non-nomadic, agrarian tribe who share a responsible relationship with nature. With every edition of the Ziro Festival of Music, a bevy of tourists and locals gather in Ziro to immerse themselves into the place’s culture, giving the locals an opportunity to garner economic utility for the place. The Hornbill festival, where all 16 tribes within the state, despite their separate and diverse ways of life, come together once a year to celebrate this event together.
“We’ve got an incredible wave of young people who are now heavily involved with this festival, along with all our fantastic long-term team. It’s an amazing position to be working alongside so many great creative minds, spending an entire year planning these hugely ambitious shows that exist for one weekend!” – Emily Eavis, Co-organizer (Glastonbury)
The traditional and indigenous handicrafts and goods sold at these festivals not only help share their culture with people from all over the world, but also form an economic community in itself, returning every year to display their art and culture at the festival. The same can be said about the La Tomatina festival in Spain. The annual event, which began with a humble food fight in the mid-1940s, pumps about $450,000 into the local economy, a welcome boost for a country in the throes of recession that’s suffering from a jobless rate of more than 25 percent.
According to this report, Glastonbury festival, which sees an average of about 180,000 people every year, impacted the worldwide economy to the tune of more than £73 million in 2008. Whether it’s the food, the accommodations, the hotels, the drinks, the tickets or the art itself – festivals are great for local economies, and have been a part of it for a long time now. Insomniac, the company behind Electric Daisy Carnival and Nocturnal Wonderland, generated 3.2 billion for the US economy in the recent years.
Think about it.