Festivals and special events are increasingly encouraged by urban policy makers as driving local (and regional) economic and cultural regeneration, with the consequent justification of public investment therein. This has led to an emerging need for a deeper understanding of their contribution, and for evaluation beyond the purely economic. In order to explore these issues, we use the Cardiff 2005 festival programme as a case study. This initiative attracted £1.3m from the Millennium Commission’s Urban Cultural Programme, matched in cash and in kind by Cardiff City Council, to fund a year-long celebration of Cardiff’s centenary. This paper therefore explores the significance of ‘fit for purpose’ festival/special event evaluation, using Cardiff 2005 to highlight critical issues in evaluation practice, from both a specific and more general perspective. Ultimately, we find that although a cultural success, Cardiff 2005 represents something of a missed opportunity in terms of both legacy and fit for purpose evaluation. We suggest that this has implications for similar initiatives both in the UK and internationally.
- public festivals