Publication: The direct and indirect impacts of mega-events on European urban heritage
For the last 150 years, mega-events have been used as instruments to define cities and distinguish them from one another. They have been praised as opportunities for innovation and cursed as overly bloated expenditures, both a blessing or a scourge for the modern and modernizing city. As cities have sought to compete not just nationally, but globally, the hosting of a mega-event has become a sort of qualifier or standard to be achieved. Ongoing discussions debate the professed benefits they bring to host cities and the reality of their legacy. The legacy of the event deals not just with a physical memory, but also a new image or brand for a city that has been projected through the event. Therefore, mega-events have been used as part of cultural and creative strategies to secure much desired global recognition and attract future economic investment (Horne and Manzenreiter 2006; Roche 1994, 2002; Short 2008; Young and Wamsley 2005). The first key aspect of events is the large public spending that accompanies them, introducing a range of physical and social effects on the city, such as new infrastructure projects or facilities (Ponzini and Jones 2015). Secondly, they can also serve as a focusing-event that introduces strict deadlines accompanied by huge expectations, the conditions that can induce actors to put aside differences in order to collaborate (McGillivray and McPherson 2012). These two qualities in particular, mass investments restricted to a hard timetable presents a potential for synergy or friction with the urban heritage of a city. Generally, urban heritage is one of the more particularly sensitive areas of the city. The introduction of mass tourism, often one of the intended consequences of a mega-event can greatly impact both the physical and the social qualities of these spaces. The decisions made as part of these events can lead also to altering the physical appearance and substance of a place through either conservation or demolition of heritage. These changes can significantly alter or potentially destroy these valued areas of cities. The historic nature of a place can also inversely impact the planning of the event or potentially become a key part of the The direct and indirect impacts of mega-events on European Urban Heritage attraction. While physical changes may be the most immediately visible, the changes to the governance of heritage areas, as well as their definitions, can have the most lasting impact. Whether a city chooses to highlight and promote its built heritage as an integral asset can continue to determine how the city values and protects its heritage even long after the event has ended. The combination of heritage cities and mega-events is therefore one that contains great potential as well as risk and deserves further consideration and study. In the last several years, a number of high profile cities including Boston, Rome and Budapest have cancelled their bids to host the Olympic Games, citing extreme costs and low public support. To broaden the appeal of the Olympics and promote more sustainable practice, Agenda 2020 has established new guidelines.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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