Glasgow's Winter Festival: can cultural leadership serve the common good?

Malcolm Foley, Gayle McPherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to explore the relationship between two policy objectives associated with Glasgow's Winter Festival; that of developing tourism and economic regeneration and that of meeting the cultural needs and improving the quality of life of the City's population. The purpose of this investigation was to examine whether such economic and community objectives can simultaneously be served through the cultural vehicle of a Winter Festival. This is done by comparing and contrasting the policy objectives set for the Festival with the actual outcomes. In considering the Festival, the concept of ‘leadership for the common good’, as expounded by Bryson and Crosby (1992) and Crosby and Bryson (2002) Conceptions of the Common Good, Paper presented at University of Strathclyde, October 18, 2002, has been utilised because it enables policy approaches to the (often contradictory) social, cultural and economic considerations of local government outlined above to be reviewed and contextualised simultaneously, even if they are not so easily reconciled in practice. The findings suggest that superficially, at least, the Festival seemed to be serving both of these interests but a fuller investigation led to the questioning of whose economies were being developed, whose culture was being represented and which communities were being served. For example, there was little doubt that the touristic community (both consumers and suppliers) was being served with the promotion of the Festival, in particular, and Glasgow, generally, as a ‘vibrant’ place to visit in winter, and thus the Council's objective of economic development was served. However, to what extent this met the Council's objective of ‘making the City a more vibrant place at holiday periods for the citizens of Glasgow’ (Glasgow City Council, 2003) was less obvious. If well-heeled residents of the City centre experienced a greater ‘vibrancy’ to their immediate living environments (whether welcome or not), it is far less certain that the Festival actually engaged more geographically and culturally ‘peripheral’ communities and citizens of Glasgow or added to the social and cultural regeneration of the City.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalManaging Leisure
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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