Purpose In this paper, we explore how Edinburgh’s key Festivals have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their response presents the emergence of more innovative festival delivery models and a different imagining of the festival space. Design/methodology/ approach We use a qualitative mixed methods research design involving 13 in-depth semi-structured interviews with Edinburgh’s Festival Directors and other cultural and policy stakeholders as part of a University--funded stand-alone research project. The interviews were supplemented with participant observation at festivals virtually and in-person to experience new and emerging formats of festival content delivery, adherence to Scottish Government guidelines on COVID-19 safety, and to experience attending festivals during a pandemic. Findings We present findings on how Edinburgh’s Festivals have responded to COVID-19 and how they have adapted – and in some cases reimagined - their business models to survive. Originality We propose a new theoretical framework that establishes a model for how festivals can approach risk management within their business model, focused on the “3R’s” – Respond, Resilience, and Reimagine - with Communication and Support being central to this framework.


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Ali-Knight, J., Kerr, G., Stewart, H. & Holmes, K. 2023, 'Festival hiatus, resilience and innovation during COVID-19: learnings from the Edinburgh Festivals', International Journal of Event and Festival Management. https://napier-repository.worktribe.com/output/3059801/festival-hiatus-resilience-and-innovation-during-covid-19-learnings-from-the-edinburgh-festivals

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Last updated: 28 March 2023
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