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Understanding experiential value creation at small-scale events: a multi-stakeholder perspective

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Although experiences gained from attending festivals and events are attracting academic interest, little study currently exists of this specific field (Geus, Richards, & Toepoel, 2016). This empirical research seeks to contribute to the emerging area, by developing an understanding of how experiential value is co-created at small-scale cultural events, and in what form. In this paper, these events are characterised as markets or fairs typically located in a town centre setting, and with an audience of less than 10,000. These are also known as ‘grassroots festivals’; defined as ‘those that originate from within a community’ (Platt and Ali-Knight, 2018, p. 262). Using case study methodology, qualitative data were collected from multiple stakeholders at three separate small-scale events in the UK: a folk music festival; a food festival; and a farmers’ market, via semi-structured interviews, questionnaire surveys, observation and documentary analysis. Four determinants emerged as important influencers of the overall event experience: sense of belonging; atmosphere; place; and reputation, along with the concepts of authenticity (Jeannerat, 2013; Zukin, 2008) and immersion (Carù and Cova, 2006). When viewed in this holistic way, experiential value is revealed as a complex, yet delicate balance, which is easily disturbed. Policymakers and event planners need to take account of this in combination with local policy objectives when considering an events-focused economic development strategy. Experiential value created by a small-scale event in one location is not easily replicated elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events
Early online date14 Dec 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 14 Dec 2019


  • E.Rust paper for JPRTLE Special Ed Event Experiences - FINAL

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events on 14/12/2019, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 2.61 MB, PDF document

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