2010 volume 28(6) pages 1083 – 1100

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Benneworth P, Dauncey H, 2010, "International urban festivals as a catalyst for governance capacity building" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 28(6) 1083 – 1100

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International urban festivals as a catalyst for governance capacity building

Paul Benneworth, Hugh Dauncey

Received 26 November 2009; in revised form 31 May 2010

Abstract. The capacity-building benefits for urban governance of unsuccessfully bidding for large events are often asserted, but much more rarely demonstrated. With the cost of bidding for an Olympics now running at US 25 million, we seek to address this gulf by asking whether the trend for ‘festivalisation’ amongst urban managers is rationally underpinned. Drawing on Lyon’s bid for the 1968 Summer Games, we look at the role played—materially, politically, and symbolically—by the Olympics bidding process, and its influence on Lyon’s later trajectory. The Lyon bid put forward proposals for its position within a pan-European urban hierarchy which have become influential in European spatial planning. Yet, this situation is not a consequence solely of the Olympics bid, but also of a critical urban governance moment in which the bid played a complicated role. By reflecting on the dimensions of influence within which the bidding process became involved we seek to provide a greater depth to the way that international festivals are regarded in contemporary conceptualistions of metropolitan development and governance.

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