Place-making and grassroots festivals


The reason for proposing this theme is that we (Louise & Jane) are preparing a proposal for a special edition on this very topic! Watch this space…

Family Fall Festival, Maryland. Image by David Robert Crews (Flickr)

There was an initial discussion on what we understood by place-making and the following ideas came through:

  • Communities and neighbourhoods and relationship to physical places
  • Relational spaces or physical spaces….Place isn’t just the physicality – the sociability – how communities make the lived reality of places.

We then considered that we need to think about the scale of these places – are we looking at small villages or large urban cores!


Can festivals restore the meaningful nature of places?

Assumption that festivals becoming more touristy – less authentic – not necessarily true.

We also considered the role National initiatives – like Queen’s Jubilee street parties etc – do communities embrace this?? How easy is it to close your own street for an activity???This is then tied up with issues of regulations – spontaneous events under threat.

Events that no longer are seen as having ‘value’ in place-making (not desirable) are we then seeing  a move to deterritorialise the events? – align with broader strategies.

What is the ‘story’ of the place? Jennie Jordan explain that in Leicester, suburban events are being brought into a city-wide marketing plan. Therefore this then links with the city governance and their priorities….. Heritage of Leicester – festivalisation of the local authorities regeneration policy!

What is public space – do cities have a gathering space? The availability of space and access to this is difficult even in small communities. Some small places might have a town square or park but others may not. Are we seeing city centres being redeveloped with events in mind?

What might a place look like that encourages spontaneous community events and gatherings. Place making can’t be sold through events – ‘spectacle equalising reality’ – the idea of a quick fix – how do we solve a problem —— event it!

Reversing the questions – how place make events! The example of a park event that was moved to city centre – no one attended !!! The park was the anchor point!
















Who makes those decisions?


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