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Festival Participation, Inclusion and Poverty: An Exploratory Study

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-03, 14:16 authored by Karen Davies, Mary Beth Gouthro, Nic Matthews, Vicky RichardsVicky Richards

 Music festivals (in the UK) have the potential to enhance the quality of life of attendees and participants, and therefore it might be argued they should be accessible to all. However, the barriers to participation that some may face when seeking to access and engage with festival experiences can often be attributed to the issue of marginalisation due to poverty. Utilising the three discourses of social inclusion put forward by Levitas as a framework, the study explores what UK music festival organisations are doing and could do to make their events more accessible to people living in poverty. Through an analysis of a series of festival websites and semi-structured interviews with festival organisers, some of the financial considerations that can influence participation and act as a barrier to making festivals an inclusive aspect of our cultural life were identified, and solutions were explored. The paper found that despite the social benefits of attending, those living in poverty have become an increasingly marginalised group of festival goers as a result of the disproportional rise in costs associated with attendance, which often goes beyond only the ticket price to include hidden extras. Whilst several festivals undertake outreach work and donate to charitable organisations, only a handful have specific initiatives that improve access for those living in poverty beyond spreading out the price of the ticket via instalments and volunteering opportunities. Findings suggest whilst many music festivals are starting to recognise the importance of the issue, few have specific initiatives but are willing to consider what they can do moving forward. 


Published in

Tourism and Hospitality




  • VoR (Version of Record)


Davies, Karen, Mary Beth Gouthro, Nic Matthews, and Victoria Richards (2023) 'Festival Participation, Inclusion and Poverty: An Exploratory Study', Tourism and Hospitality 4, no. 1: 51-74.

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Management

Cardiff Met Authors

Karen Davies Nic Matthews Vicky Richards

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • WCTR (Welsh Centre for Tourism Research)

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  • © The Authors


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