The ‘eventful city’ concept developed out of the basic observation that cities are using events to achieve a growing range of policy objectives, including economic growth, image change, social cohesion and physical redevelopment. The growing importance and scale of event activity in cities is driving a rapidly changing relationship between events and the city. Cities are no longer simply containers for events; they are co-creators, innovators, directors, managers, partners and beneficiaries of events. Events in turn are shaped by the cities they take place in, with their form, duration, content and effects being determined to a large extent by urban space, place and process.
Few cities illustrate this dialectic relationship between cities and events better than Barcelona. Starting with the World Expo in 1888 and continuing through the 1929 World Expo and the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona has harnessed the power of events to put itself on the global map, shape perceptions and drive economic, cultural and social development. With the Mobile World Congress recently secured for a further eight year term, Barcelona is rapidly establishing itself as a global events hub.
This development has not always been smooth or entirely progressive. The forging of an economic growth coalition in Post-Franco Barcelona helped to secure the Olympics, but the focus on external promotion and economic growth has also attracted increasing criticism from social partners and local citizens concerned with the globalization of the city and the loss of identity. One of the basic emerging questions is – do events serve the city, or does the city serve events?
When the original eventful cities concept was developed a few years ago, few cities had experience of managing, developing and directing their event programmes to produce effective outcomes. In recent years, however, different models have emerged that show how cities can develop a constructive relationship with their events, and how the events can benefit from this relationship as well.
The aim of this meeting is to review the development of ‘eventful cities’ such as Barcelona, to analyse the emerging trends in the eventful landscape and to trace potential future development directions. The meeting will bring together leading international scholars in the event studies field, as well as practitioners from the events industry and the policy field in Barcelona and beyond.