What benefits can be derived from pursuing a multicultural strategy at a major arts festival? A case study the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article summarise the research’s findings that aimed to determine the benefits of a multicultural strategy at a major arts festival. The conclusions stated firstly that not only economic but also social benefits are found by developing a multicultural strategy. Second, there is a necessity of segmentation in arts genres in a multicultural society, which involves a process of customization. Third, there is necessary a multicultural strategy to deal with the management of subcultures between a society. Finally, through a multicultural strategy, marketing approaches must become in favour of integration of communities.
Despite the limitation of case study is not generalizable. It can be applicable to festivals or events in multicultural societies under similar circumstances. Therefore, this research proposes a new viewpoint for events managers, cultural organisations, and governmental institutions.

Summary of the findings

To determine the degree of multiculturalism in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, spectators and performers were asked for the place of origin the findings revealed that the spectators were mainly tourists from England 53%, and the remaining was divided in equal percentages in nine different countries. The local spectators were not necessary Scottish, but from different countries like India, France or England. 

The figures revealed that the local participation 23% is in general low in comparison with the 73% of tourists.  From the 22 participants chosen randomly, there were two participants from the European Union specifically from France. Despite the literature, review is said that the festival was created to generate European unification after the Second World War (Web1), there were not enough visitors from these countries. Nevertheless, the director of the fringe indicated that the origin of the performers included the majority of the regions in the world. 

To contribute to the objective of this dissertation, and corroborate information, also four performers were interviewed. They were all from different cultures overseas. However, the findings also discovered that some of the origins of the performers correspond to sub-cultures, as defined by Jacob (2005), multiculturalism is “the management of sub-cultures within a nation”; and therefore, under these circumstances, marketing practices and even policies must be considered upon the concept of multiculturalism as the coexistence of subcultures in the arts festivals.

To analyse the multicultural inclusion in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, some questions were asked to the participants to identify representativeness, satisfaction, interest in international performances, or different cultures performances. The findings demonstrated that the majority of spectators found representation of their culture facilitating social integration and building community pride. The community will supply support towards the event as they find representativeness. The community also will perceive the benefits of the event bringing positive outcomes as the ‘Social representation theory’ (Pearce et al 1996 cited by Getz 2007) suggests that communities build up representations that influence their attitude towards the events, and these are based for example on experiences and social interaction. 

As stated by Jacob (2005), to obtain ‘cultural convergence (theory)’ is needed a profound perception of the ‘local cultures, sub-cultures and processes which alter the cultural software of the mind’ (Hofstede, 2003).  Therefore, the findings showed that the majority of spectators have seen Different Cultures Performances (DCP), consequently, they are unlearning and learning new patterns in the way they see DCP, which generate cultural convergence in a cultural integration process.  This convergence can be obtainable in the extent a spectator can leave aside any preconceived ideas and be open to the acceptance of new values, aesthetics forms, and cultural patrons from other cultures.

The findings found that spectators like more DCP, for instance DCP becomes a new market opportunity.  In addition, the data suggested that a high percentage of spectators are interested in international performances. Besides, the majority of spectators agreed to the inclusion of more DCP, however, a minority considered it is enough.  Therefore, the findings proposed that multicultural policy must be considered in the frame of arts festivals, contributing in two aspects; the first one, to maximize consumer satisfaction, second to supply society responding to multicultural requirements.

The finding found that the multicultural process at the Festival was established in the Edinburgh Festivals Strategy; however, it is still difficult to determine the degree of multiculturalism involved.  Despite the Director indicated, the audiences’ receptiveness was an obstacle to include foreign performances; on the contrary, the findings suggested that the spectators of the Fringe would be open to new foreign productions.

 The findings suggested that, although the Director of the Fringe affirmed the festival also takes each genre as a different segment for marketing purposes and not as a one only product, this is debatable. Considering the four Koch different segments and the fifth proposed by the researcher, when different cultural background spectators (customers) receive different performances (product), not only genres, but also more multicultural performances: 

  • Different customers receive different versions of variants of the same product.

In addition, the development of market/audiences of the units/arts genres that are less popular can be extended to increase market share as proposed by Koch. 

It was found also that multiculturalism in the performances is considered for the performers in foreign productions trying to be universal reaching other cultures. The findings also proposed that more universal arts genres, like music or dance, can be more multicultural as do not present obstacles for the perception and understanding for not presenting language barriers - as stated by Hofstede in the case of comedy: “the humour implies a profound management of the language…” However, other linguistic aspects can be interpreted, and therefore not present an obstacle to enjoy a performance.

To determine the benefits of multicultural strategy for Edinburgh and Scotland, the findings suggested that the majority of the spectators have a positive experience watching different cultures’ performances; hence, according to the Social Exchange theory this will foster social integration (Getz 2007), and enhance tolerance towards different cultures through the consumption of the artistic product. 

The findings found that all the benefits from the festival proposed by the researcher: quality of life, citizens’ attitude, citizens’ behaviour, reduction of crime, citizens’ tolerance, local pride, international recognition and enhancement of ethnic minorities seem not to be considered by the Director except for International recognition. This result is contradictory with a previous question, in which is found that the process of multiculturalism was developed through the Edinburgh Festivals Strategy; therefore, does not this ‘Festival Strategy’ embrace inclusion and enhance ethnic minorities as well?

As seen in the Director’s questionnaire, it was found that the inclusion of foreign productions resident in UK is a strategy to diminish costs and inconveniences. Therefore, the inclusion of ‘local’ minorities that already reside in the UK becomes an important multicultural commercial strategy that can be enhanced encouraging more participation.  Nevertheless, more international marketing strategies are needed, to encourage not only performers to participate but also more tourism from overseas; then, the multicultural strategy is also applicable to the international market.

Recommendations

The community will supply support towards the event as they find representativeness, they also will perceive the benefits of the event bringing positive outcomes.  The sense of inclusion for part of any participant including performers and audiences can constitute a positive response towards the city, institutions and community.  In this way the data demonstrate that the representativeness of different cultures in the festival will bring positive outcomes. 

As the findings suggested, the majority of spectators would like more DCP, are interested in international performances, agreed to the inclusion of DCP, and have good experience of it; therefore, DCP generates consumer satisfaction as well as social fulfilment; for instance, DCP become a new market opportunity to consider in the development of the festival. 

Marketing practices and even policies must be considered upon the concept of multiculturalism under circumstances where the coexistence of subcultures is detectable. In the case of arts festivals, as shown in the findings, the subcultures are evident and therefore a multicultural strategy is needed.

In the process of customization, it is important to consider a definition of segmentation including the following:

  • Different customers receive different versions of variants of the same product.

The application of this definition will be, then, different cultural background spectators (customers) receive different performances (product), not only genres, but also more multicultural performances.   Additionally, the development of market/audiences of the units/arts genres that are less popular can be extended to increase market share as proposed by Koch. The units/arts genres that are less popular and may be part of a multicultural strategy are Music, Dance & Physical Theatre, Events Listings and Exhibitions.  Furthermore, the development of audiences for these arts genres can utilise the model proposed by Barlow and Shibi (2008) following the Ansoff Matrix.

Consequently, the research can determine what benefits can be derived from pursuing a multicultural strategy at a major arts festival on the basis of the case study the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as follows:

  • Representativeness building social integration and community pride.
  • Satisfaction owed to positive experience
  • Attitudes towards the event
  • Cultural convergence through the acceptance of new values and cultural patrons
  • Receptiveness, openness to new aesthetics patrons
  • Enhancement of ethnic minorities
  • Marketing opportunity through the development of new market segment increasing market share
  • Applicability to the international marketing and therefore development of tourism influx

Relationship of the current study to previous research

Recent research by Barlow and Shibi (2008) indicated the development of audiences in the arts through the principles of marketing stipulated in the Ansoff Matrix.  The development of audiences can bring beneficial outcomes, as the increment in the frequency of participation of the existing audiences or first time attendees. Hence, the multicultural strategy will include market penetration strategy and product development strategy. In this way the same ‘event-goers’ were be offered new programmes on the basis of multiculturalism. Therefore, this strategy will increase the frequency of attendance and satisfaction of existing audiences.  The market penetration strategy will imply low risk and low cost, while the product development strategy low-medium risk as seen in the figure 2.10. below.

 

Existing Products/programme

New Products/programme

Existing Markets/

Audiences

(Attendees/

Intenders)

Same people

Existing programme

MARKET PENETRATION STRATEGY

Increasing the frequency of attendance

Attracting back lapsed attendees

LOW RISK, LOW COST

Same people

New programme

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

New products/programme offered to existing audiences

LOW-MEDIUM RISK

New Markets/

Audiences

(unaware/

Inexperienced)

New people

Existing programme

MARKET DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

Attracting new people for the first time

MEDIUM RISK

New people

New programme

DIVERSIFICATION STRATEGY

Introducing a new programme for a new audience


HIGH RISK, HIGHER COST

Figure 2.10  The Ansoff Matrix applied to audience development strategies Barlow and Shibi (2008)

It is important to consider that there are effects of multiculturalism in the different causal forces proposed by Getz (2007)  that constitute the event not only community involvement, which was the causal studied in this research, reason why it is necessary to establish policies and strategies to not only benefit economically, but socially. These causal forces or ‘stressors’ (Getz 2007) are Expenditure/investment, tourism, development, community involvement, and media coverage. The findings have demonstrated how it is important for community involvement and tourism. Nevertheless, other ways of influences of multiculturalism in these causal forces are in event development the control of crowd behaviour and the perception from media that creates social representations. In expenditure/investment ethnic’s barriers affect trade and even further economic growth.

Directions for further research:

It is suggested for further research to consider the previous limitations and to consider the subsequent observations that the research has developed; these ones can be consider as prepositions (P) for a hypothesis.

Prepositions:

P1: Besides, of the economical benefits that are represented in the inclusion of different cultures in arts festivals, there are social benefits derived from a multicultural strategy. These benefits include representativeness, recognition, satisfaction, social fulfilment, attitude, cultural convergence, receptiveness and enhancement of ethnic minorities.

P.2: The inclusion of different cultures in arts festivals engenders a necessity of segmentation in a multicultural society, which involves a process of customization. Cultural diversity in arts festivals generates the implementation of market segments when Different customers receive different versions of variants of the same product. This implies that different cultural background customers receive different, not only genres, but also more multicultural performances. Therefore, this segmentation is an advantage that can spawn economical benefits though the expansion of the market share while optimising customer satisfaction and social integration.

P.3: When multicultural inclusion is referred to social change, this involves complex processes. There is necessary a multicultural strategy to deal with the management of subcultures between a society. The arts festivals are an opportunity to create social integration and the cultural convergence implicit. It is through the aesthetic product that intercultural experience can be developed in a graceful and pleasant manner. The short period of festivals permits the development of positive interaction between host and guest and therefore, their particular cultures.

P.4: Through a multicultural strategy, marketing approaches must become in favour of integration of communities. Clear advertising of the productions is necessary, considering the different market segments; consumer behaviour differs in several aspects like hierarchy of needs, culture-based values and institutions.  Different artistic genres represent a specific connotation for different cultural background spectators and, therefore their marketing approach must be customized.

Practical application

The practical application of this dissertation is clearly related with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; nevertheless, despite the limitation of case study is not generalizable. It can be applicable to festivals or events in multicultural societies under similar circumstances. Therefore, this research proposes a new viewpoint for events managers, cultural organisations, and governmental institutions.  This research is applicable to the development of a multicultural policy or strategy for arts festivals encouraging social inclusion while considering multicultural backgrounds of audiences and performers.   Consequently, the dissertation is also relevant to international business as purposing an international issue in the cultural and events industry; thus, it offers a business viewpoint to increase market share through the development of specific market segments while generating social inclusion.

By Adriana Henao
MBA
MA Performing Arts

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10 October 1990 - 10:11:12 10 October 1990