- The arts and festivals of art have today become a vital economic
force in some areas of the country and a way of life for some people.
The number and sizes of festivals, as well as audience size, has
grown tremendously both nationally and in Oregon, since 1950. Even
the federal government has begun to be involved to various extents.
Art festivals are an important source of information about the
needs, values, and interests of an increasing number of people in our
society. Art festivals, as a form of outdoor recreation, have spatial
as well as time dimensions, hence they carry certain implications for
parks and recreation programs, urban planning, as well as recreational
land use planning, and man's crucial adjustment and ability to
cope with increasing leisure time.
By means of a literature review, the researcher examined art
festivals in context of the nationwide arts movement to gain an understanding of the historical process. For the sake of perspective, the literature on mass culture, the relationship of arts and crafts to state
and county fairs, and to leisure were likewise reviewed. Then,
focusing on art festivals in Oregon, mail questionnaires were sent out
to all cities in Oregon known to have held such festivals in the last
three decades, and personal interviews were conducted with 188
spectators at art festivals held in the Willamette Valley, 1975
The researcher found a steady increase in numbers of festivals
held in Oregon, quadrupling from 1950-1960, and doubling from 1960-1976. Site or location was one of the most important factors in attracting
people, as well as the key element in explaining the distribution of
art festivals. Interviewees placed great importance on close-to-home
recreation, non-activity (i. e. not '1doing") recreation, and the factor
of being outdoors. Naturalness of the site as well as density of the
recreational experience were found to be directly opposite to the traditional
planning values for judging quality recreation.
It is concluded that professionals in the arts, parks, and
planning fields need to join forces; that the federal government should
support recreational arts and their open space needs on a national
scale, rather than just around Washington, D. C.; and that urban
governments could and should make more space available for events
such as art festivals in close -to -home neighborhood settings since the
greatest need of the immediate present and future is for the provision
of recreation and recreational space for all people, not just the young or the physically and economically able. The need is also seen for
city and park planning to be more imaginatively and sensitively aware
of behavioral needs in recreation, than has been the case in the past.
Team effort or interagency co-operation is seen as the answer to a
more foresightful setting aside of the necessary space for the future.
Mentally, new attitudes and definitions, as well as outlooks need
to be encouraged among urban planners and recreationists. Physically,
parks, per se, are not considered necessary for art festivals, but open
space is (preferably for permanent rather than just temporary use).
With an increasing urban population, it is concluded that the needs of
the future lie in urban areas, hence the challenge and opportunities for
change will rest heavily with city and regional governments, with planners
and park-recreation departments. But ultimately responsibility
lies with the taxpayers themselves, who must give their monetary
support and must not be satisfied with anything less than imaginative
new plans for close-to-home recreation and leisure.