Festival as Policy Vehicle: Creative Industries, Creative Cities, and the Creative Class

  • Millicent Weber
Part of the New Directions in Book History book series (NDBH)


This chapter explores the resonance between contemporary cultural policy discourses—particularly those based on creative industries models for urban regeneration—and the manner in which literary festivals are promoted. Combining cultural, social, and economic goals, and demanding creative producers’ constant mediation between these often divergent priorities, creative industries discourse parallels literary festivals’ negotiation of a field structured by cultural and commercial tensions. Moreover, the creative industries approach remains a modish ‘catch-all’ policy framework applied in promoting literary festivals and local literary cultures. This chapter interrogates the extent to which this representation and this comparison are justified, and introduces a number of ethical and practical issues in the wholesale adoption of creative industries discourse. Ethical issues considered include the reliance of creative-industries-focused urban development projects on creative workers’ continued self-exploitation; these projects’ prioritisation of the needs of young professionals over those of demographics which are not part of the creative elite; and their tendency to mask, rather than address, issues of marginalisation and social inequality. This chapter also presents a survey of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature network, the International Organisation of Book Towns, and the Word Alliance, and traces the ways in which these networks circulate values similar to those promoted by proponents of creative industries approaches to cultural and social development.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Millicent Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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