Festivals as cohesive groups of interrelated art events, aiming at conveying the sense of the extraordinary into the current flow of cultural mass production, complete social calendars and the cultural agenda with a wide variety of events.
Originating in ancient Greece (with the Olympian-, Isthmian-, Panathenaian-, Delian- etc. Games), festivals evolved throughout the centuries, playing a determinant role in the public or private, the religious or worldly sphere.
Nowadays festivals fulfill a wide spectrum of functions which stretches from their primary goal, which is supporting art groups, to producing local pride, identity and income. Within the framework of urban marketing, they become strategic tools, through which modern cities seek to lay the foundations for an assertive image and to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive world. As a result, festivals gradually become established as the basic components of extensive and unified local, regional and national growth strategies.
In this context, local governments are very often called on to support festivals. This not only leads to a significant increase of the number of festivals held under their auspices, but also to making festival management an independent sector of cultural action. Municipalities, prefectures, districts, municipal enterprises and associations of their authorities undertake the role of festival managers, thereby competing with event managers, local professional organizations, development consultants, local chambers of commerce as well as local and regional tourist organizations.
Given these tendencies, and on the occasion of the overall successful Municipality of Byronas Festival which already counts 23 years of life, we have oriented ourselves towards organizing a convention under the thematic area of local government festivals, with the ambition to contribute at the same time to the promotion of academic knowledge as well as the support of cultural action by local governments.
From the fruitful co-operation of the Department of Communication, Media and Culture of the Panteion University and the Municipality of Byron, rose the idea of organizing the present convention that is entitled «Organizing festivals: Tendencies, evolutions and challenges for local governments.