Impact and Engagement: The Contemporary Art Festival and Its Audience

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The proliferation of art fairs, art festivals and the globalization of the biennale, has opened up the world of contemporary art to an ever-increasing audience. While a vast amount of literature exists on festivals, with a growing body of research examining art festivals, the majority of these studies focus on economic impact, marketing, tourism and place building.

The Festival of Contemporary Art conference in Bologna in January 2009, and the upcoming Bergen Biennial Conference 2009 both address the importance of and need for further study and research on the biennale phenomenon. How do art fairs, festivals and biennales fit within the existing arts infrastructure? How do these more public events engage new or broader contemporary art audiences? What are the relationships between the local artists, and arts institutions and these larger often more internationally based events?

This paper will provide a critical analysis of the existing literature on contemporary art festivals and events focusing on audience participation and impact. It is proposed that a new model is needed if we wish to develop a deeper understanding of who attends, why they attend and the impact that attendance has on future arts participation, understanding and appreciation.


Keywords: Art Festivals, Biennale, Audience, Art Events, Contemporary Art, Art Fairs, Public Event, Arts Participation
Stream: Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Angela Brayham

PhD Candidate, School of Planning, University of Waterloo
Toronto, ON, Canada

Angela Brayham is a PhD candidate in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo, Canada and is the Director / Curator of Brayham Contemporary Art in Toronto, Canada. Her thesis topic: Cultural Planning and the Festivalization of the Arts: Prospect and the Revitalization of New Orleans, furthers her interest in the role that local and international art festivals and biennales play in the civic landscape, development of a local arts audience, and the intersection between local and international art and artists. Ms. Brayham has worked as a director / curator of numerous civic and regional contemporary art museums in Canada and the United States.

Ref: A09P0624