Encounter and Exchange: Assessing social contributions of arts festivals in regional Australian communities

A/Prof Michelle Duffy in collaboration with A/Prof Judith Mair (UQ)

Across Australia, regional and rural communities are facing complex challenges of social, cultural, environmental and economic transition, adaptation and decline. Regional arts festivals may well provide avenues for meaningful social interaction that can contribute to social, civic, and economic wellbeing. However, it is difficult to evaluate how effective they are. Festivals are one of a small range of community development tools available to local authorities working on limited budgets. Many communities have invested substantial resources into festivals with the expectation that positive local outcomes will be delivered. While some outcomes can be assessed numerically (such as economic impact), desired social outcomes are more difficult to measure as they are not easily separated out into distinct and readily quantified components. The project aims to deliver effective tools for evaluating the social outcomes of regional arts festivals.


Duffy, M., Mair, J. (2018). Festival Encounters: Theoretical perspectives on festival events and social cohesion Oxon & NY: Routledge

Mair, J., Duffy, M. (2020). The Role of Festival Networks in Regional Community Building. In A. Campbell, M. Duffy, B. Edmondson (eds) Located research: regional places, transitions and challenges Palgrave MacMillan; pp. 89-116

Duffy, M. (2019). Music events and festivals: Identity and experience. In J. Mair (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Festivals London & New York: Routledge; pp. 304-312

Duffy, M., Mair, J. (2018). Engaging the senses to explore community events Event Management 22(1): 49-63

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.