Umbrellas, Incubators, Mothers and Killers: Four typologies of relationship between cultural mega-events and small and micro events in Heritage-rich European cities

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This paper explores the relationship and impact between cultural mega-events and the subsequent production of other small and micro events held within heritage spaces. As with other types of mega-events, cities often turn to cultural mega-events for their perceived positive externalities and with a desired legacy that leaves a long-term impact on the city. These events generally build up and establish a strong reputation for associated network of actors that, in most cases, keep promoting smaller-scale events in subsequent years. In other cases, larger events crowd out small ones. Yet how do these cultural mega-events and all of their ‘infrastructure’ relate to and impact newly created or existing local smaller events? Additionally, what are the key impacts of continuous festivalization of heritage spaces in cities? This paper presents and analyzes four found typologies of this interaction between megaevents and small localized existing or newly created events: “Umbrellas,” “Incubators,” “Mothers” and “Killers.” We will consider in depth the European Capital of Culture program – since it has become an important cultural policy implemented across Europe for more than 30 years. “Umbrella” events encompass and include many pre-existing smaller events within the cultural mega-event. “Incubator” events also utilize pre-existing micro events, but come to enhance and grow them through the increased cultural capital, means and knowledge the mega-event brings. “Mother” events lead to the creation of new small and micro events in the city that did not previously exist, while “Killer” events have a negative impact on previously existing small and micro events. Finally, the paper theorizes on the mechanisms responsible for these typologies and their significance for urban heritage.
Heritage, Cultural mega-events, Festivalization, Cultural policy, Policy network