Main Tourism Economics Festival value in multicultural contexts: City festivals in South Africa

Festival value in multicultural contexts: City festivals in South Africa

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Special Issue: The Economics of Cultural
Tourism – New Topics and Methods

Festival value in multicultural
contexts: City festivals in South

Tourism Economics
ª The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1354816620932808

Jen D Snowball
Rhodes University, South Africa; South African Cultural Observatory, South Africa

Geoff G Antrobus
Rhodes University, South Africa; South African Cultural Observatory, South Africa

Worldwide, the number and variety of cultural festivals have grown dramatically. Many areas see
festivals as an important way to attract tourists, and their spending, to a region, resulting in a
positive economic impact. While they offer important opportunities for artistic producers and
audiences, there is growing pressure for festival organizers to demonstrate their value to society
beyond their economic impact. Like many countries, South Africa has a strong focus on increasing
diverse cultural participation, demonstrating the social, nonmarket values of events that receive
public funding. Using data from two South African festivals, the article uses a valuation framework
developed by the South African Cultural Observatory to demonstrate measures of audience
diversity, the use of quality of life measures to gauge the impact of culture on well-being, and the
use of community focus groups to assess the impact of participation on social cohesion and
capacity building.
diversity, evaluation, festivals, methods

In the past 30 years, many local governments have promoted cultural tourism as a local
development strategy, with the focus on the new money that tourists bring to a region and the
increased incomes and jobs that these generate. Bonet (2011) attributes the rise of cultural
tourism to a number of factors, including the growing middle class and the diversification of

Corresponding author:
Jen D Snowball, Department of Economics, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6; 140, South Africa.


Tourism Economics XX(X)

tourism and travel. Cultural tourists travel away from their normal residences for the purpose of
experiencing and learning new things related to cultural, symbolic, or spiritual values. In South
Africa, tourism has long been promoted as a local economic development strategy (Rogerson,
2008) and Toerien (2020) shows that tourism in smaller towns is associated with lower levels of
community poverty.
Worldwide, the number and variety of cultural festivals have grown dramatically. Cultural
festivals can play an important part in attracting tourists to a city, as well improving the city’s
image and thus encouraging inward investment. For local residents, cultural events can promote
the development of social capital, communal solidarity and identity, and leverage the development
of infrastructure (Quinn, 2010). There are currently more than 600 festivals per year in South
Africa, many of which are experiencing a drop in visitor numbers (and spending) as household
incomes decline in a climate of slow economic growth (Van Heerden and Saayman, 2018). As in
other countries, many of these festivals also receive public support and are facing pressure to
demonstrate their value to society as public goods, as well as through economic impact (Ferguson,
2013; Herrero et al., 2001). In postapartheid South Africa, demonstrating how festivals are
expanding participation and audience diversity is a key factor. In such a climate, it is no longer
enough to provide evidence of the financial impact of an event through increased tourism—a more
nuanced, multidimensional valuation framework is needed.
In a valuation, the characteristics of the host city itself can make a big difference to both the
social and economic impact of the event. The socioeconomic conditions may also influence the
aims of a particular event, and the structure and size of the local economy affect the way spending
is translated into economic impact. Cultural festivals that take place in big cities have particular
challenges and opportunities compared to those held in smaller towns. For example, cities can
provide larger local audiences and easier access to specialist services, artists, and performers. On
the other hand, in cities, many residents and visitors may not even be aware of the event taking
place, making it more challenging to demonstrate local impacts.
In 2016, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) produced the Framework for the
Monitoring and Evaluation of Publically Funded Arts, Culture and Heritage. The Framework
provided a method for valuing a wide variety of cultural events, projects, and institutions under
five cultural value “themes,” which were then linked to indicators, which included both quantitative and qualitative measures. As part of testing the framework, it was applied to a wide range of
cultural festivals in South Africa, two of which this article discusses: The Cape Town Carnival and
the Mangaung African Cultural Festival (MACUFE), both of which take place in two of the larger
South African cities (Cape Town and Mangaung/Bloemfontein). Both the host cities, and the
festivals themselves, have very different characteristics and aims.
The goals of this article are to demonstrate the importance of using a variety of value
indicators when assessing the impact of cultural festivals, especially in multicultural societies,
like South Africa. The article places particular emphasis on indicators of audience diversity,
well-being, and participation, in addition to the more usual economic impact methods. Results
showed that, in some circumstances, festivals are much more successful in attracting tourists
from outside the host city and thus generating economic impacts. However, this needs to be
balanced by considering the noneconomic, social impacts of other kinds of cultural festivals,
which may be more important to local residents. Too heavy an emphasis on tourist and
economic impact may reduce funding to smaller events which have equally important cultural
and social benefits.

Snowball and Antrobus


Festival value and the SACO framework
The values associated with arts, culture, and heritage can be divided into three broad categories:
economic (financial) impacts, social impacts, and the intrinsic value of art itself. Nadotti and
Vannoni (2019: 117) argue that “A chain of relations between culture and tourism could be ideally
defined around the concept of an event,” since the event is a manifestation of cultural and social
values, while tourism links to economic and placemaking goals. Cultural festivals thus provide an
interesting opportunity to develop and apply multidimensional measures of value.

Economic impacts
Economic, or financial, impacts come about as a result of the inflow of new money into an economic system as a result of visitors from outside the region. Visitors spend money on accommodation, transport, food, shopping, tickets, and so on. This spending then recirculates in the host
economy, thus increasing sales and employment in local businesses. Festival evaluations tended to
be dominated by economic impact methodology to the exclusion of other important measures of
value (Quinn, 2016), despite the increasing skepticism about the validity of such studies (Nadotti
and Vannoni, 2019).

Social values
Social values relate to the benefits to society, such as education, creativity, and innovation,
social cohesion, and identity formation (Bohm and Land, 2008). Cultural festivals can be
important sites of interaction for both producers and consumers. For producers, Ferguson (2013)
describes arts festivals as “touchstone experiences” that contribute toward the development of
networks and social capital. Festivals also give artists access to peer-to-peer pedagogy and
“inspirational capital” which contribute to the development of symbolic capital (having an
influence in the field) and increase the probability of artistic, and often financial, success
(Ferguson, 2013).
For audiences, festivals offer opportunities to experience new, or a wider variety of, cultural
forms or genres, as well as the social aspects of spending time with family and friends, both of
which could increase quality of life (QoL) (Hand, 2018). Jordan (2013: 11) conceptualizes festivals
as spaces that promote experimentation for both producers and audiences: “The other worldliness
of the festival environment provides a safe space in which to try out different personas or activities
that can either be incorporated into or be rejected on return to everyday life.”

Intrinsic value
Intrinsic values are related to the symbolic and artistic nature of the product itself and to feelings
invoked in individual participants (such as joy, sadness, anger, delight, questioning, etc.).
Development of cultural indicators themselves starts with the identification of the general categories of cultural value of most interest. Rather than beginning with the more easily quantifiable
economic, or even social indicators, the intrinsic starts with “people’s experience of arts and
culture, rather than secondary benefits that follow” (Crossick and Kaszynska, 2014: 123). Measuring intrinsic values may need to incorporate qualitative data and theory from disciplines other
than economics.


Tourism Economics XX(X)

Cultural participation, diversity, and well-being
With the increasing importance of accountability for public and private sponsorship, data on
participation rates and on who participates in cultural events are also becoming more important and
contentious. Ideas of what cultural participation means are intimately linked to the cultural policy
paradigm of the country (Bonet and Negrier, 2018). For example, in a paradigm of “Cultural
Excellence,” passive audiences require high levels of cultural capital to appreciate “high” art. In
this scenario, a lack of participation is conceived as being a result of a “deficit” on the part of the
audience (their inability to appreciate “excellent” art).
With the recent shift in cultural paradigm toward “Cultural Democratization” (Bonet and
Negrier, 2018), cultural policy emphasis changed from supply-side issues of excellence to
demand-side focus on audience access. “Cultural Democracy” takes this even further, conceptualizing participation in a much more active way through, for example, amateur production
and crowdfunding. This links to the theory of “cultural ecosystems,” which include not only the
formal, professional production of arts and culture but also the underpinning informal and amateur
activity that supports the final product sold in the market (Wilson et al., 2017).
Many studies have shown that cultural participation is determined by socioeconomic class,
including family background and education as well as household income (Mulcahy, 2017;
Throsby, 2010; Van Hek and Kraaykamp, 2013; Willekens and Lievens, 2016), which seem to
support the idea that the arts are consumed or appreciated mostly by higher income and educated
members of society. Glow et al. (2020: 1) note that audiences in Anglophone countries remain
predominantly “white, middle class, and middle-aged.” This is despite a strong cultural policy
focus on diversification in many countries, and the importance of inclusion both in terms of
social justice and equity, as well as for the sustainability of arts organizations themselves
(Werner et al., 2014).
In South Africa, with its apartheid history and ongoing socioeconomic inequality, improving the
diversity of audiences is a key goal of the Department of Arts and Culture and a requirement of
many public and private funding agencies. Audience diversity in relation to cultural events can be
defined in terms of many indicators, including household income, gender, age group, race, language, ability, education levels, and motive for attending (Glow et al., 2020; Werner et al., 2014).
Research has shown that improving audience diversity requires long-term organizational change
and commitment (Glow et al., 2020) and that focusing on a few limited demographic descriptors,
like race and ethnicity, are of limited use in understanding, and thus reaching, diverse audiences.
There is also increasing interest in measuring cultural value through an analysis of the relationship between QoL, also referred to as subjective well-being, or happiness, and cultural participation (Galloway, 2006; Hand, 2018; Michalos and Kahlke, 2008; Steiner et al., 2015).
Research in South Africa (Botha and Snowball, 2015; Ebrahim et al., 2013) and in other parts of
the world has found that QoL is affected by many factors. Some of the most common are age,
gender, income, education, employment, health, personal relationships (especially with life partners and children), relative social status, and control over one’s life. There is also some evidence
that consumption of “experience” goods, such as attending a festival or travel, increases life
satisfaction more than purchasing goods.
However, despite much qualitative research into the relationship between QoL and cultural
participation or consumption, there have been relatively few quantitative studies in this area. A
problem with econometric QoL studies and culture is that, while there may be positive correlations
between cultural consumption and subjective well-being, other factors often have a larger effect

Snowball and Antrobus


and are also highly correlated with culture (e.g. education and cultural consumption often go
together). This makes it difficult to isolate the size of the impact of culture on QoL (Galloway,
2006). A recent article by Hand (2018) used a large database and an econometric technique that
allowed arts attendance and other control variables to vary across different levels of happiness. His
findings showed that, especially for those with lower levels of general life satisfaction, cultural
consumption did statistically significantly increase QoL.

The SACO framework
Based on the three broad categories of value discussed above (economic, social, and intrinsic), the
Framework for the Monitoring and Evaluation of Publically Funded Arts, Culture and Heritage
(SACO, 2016) was developed. The choice of themes was based on a review of local and international literature on cultural value, some of the key goals for South African cultural policy.
Specific areas of importance for one of the main public cultural festival funding sources from
South Africa’s national Department of Arts and Culture were also considered. To operationalize
the framework, the themes were linked to indicators so that data or evidence about the impact of
the specific project or organization could be presented (see Online Appendix 1). The idea of the
SACO framework was not that all cultural festivals report on all themes and indicators, but that
they select those that are most applicable to the aims and values of the event itself.
There are a wide variety of frameworks for evaluating the impact of culture. The UK “Cultural
Value Project,” for example, took an open-ended, multidisciplinary approach, recognizing, as Holden
(2009) does, that the indicators and methods chosen should depend on why a particular valuation is
taking place. Similarly, Crossick and Kaszynska (2014: 128) question the “belief in a single quantifiable measurement to articulate the importance of arts and culture relative to other activities” and
argue instead for a much broader approach in shaping a research agenda for cultural value.
The successful attraction of cultural tourists to a festival depends on effective event management,
which includes the systematic monitoring of the needs and experiences of tourists (Nadotti and
Vannoni, 2019). Equally however, too strong a focus on the instrumental values associated with a
cultural event (attracting tourists spending) will result in a loss of its inherent cultural meaning, which
will reduce the degree of authenticity of a tourist’s experience, and impact negatively on the longterm sustainability of both the event and the tourism it attracts (Ivanovic, 2008).
The SACO framework outlines of five broad cultural value themes: audience development and
education; human capital and professional capacity building; inclusive economic growth; social
cohesion and community development; and reflective and engaged citizens. An explicit goal of the
framework was to make a contribution to the valuation of cultural festivals that places emphasis on
values in addition to the economic and that was applicable to a wide range of different kinds of
cultural events. For the purposes of this article, a few key themes and indicators that are particularly applicable to the aims of the cultural festivals being studied, and that made use of both
quantitative and qualitative data, are discussed.

Background and context: The Cape Town Carnival and MACUFE
The Cape Town Carnival
The City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality is South Africa’s second largest metro by
population size (3.7 million). Despite a relatively diverse economy, it has an unemployment rate of
nearly 24%, which is nevertheless lower than the South African average. The largest language


Tourism Economics XX(X)

group is Afrikaans (35%), followed by isiXhosa (29%) and English (28%). Compared to many
other parts of South Africa, living conditions are good, with 78% of the population living in formal
housing and 94% having access to electricity for lighting.
Cape Town is well-known as a tourism destination for both local and international visitors,
especially for its scenic beauty and for the wine industry in the near vicinity. According to a recent
tourism report (Statistics South Africa, 2015), 20% of international air travelers enter the country
through the Cape Town International Airport, which amounts to more than half a million international visitors per year.
Although the Cape Town metropolitan area is regarded as one of the affluent and developed
parts of South Africa, there are large areas consisting of informal housing, or shacks, mostly
occupied by black and “colored” South Africans. This is despite large-scale housing projects that
have been in place since the end of apartheid in 1994. The Cape Flats area on the outskirts of the
city is also known for its gang violence and poverty.
The Cape Town Carnival was established in 2007 and is operated by a nonprofit trust. The
Carnival Parade is free of charge, although a limited number of seated tickets on stands were
provided at recent Carnivals. The Carnival has grown significantly since 2010, with around two
dozen floats, an estimated 50,000 spectators, 1900 performers, and 50 participating groups (Cape
Town Carnival Annual Review, 2016). The Carnival—to the public—is a 1-day event. Most of the
core objectives of the Carnival, however, are achieved in the months leading up to the public event
during which float builders, musicians, artists, costume designers, performers, dancers, school, and
other groups prepare for the parade.
The Carnival Parade itself is positioned as a “glamourous celebration of African identity, of
diverse communities and the transformative power of creativity” (Cape Town Carnival Annual
Review, 2016: 6). The aims of the Carnival, including artistic, economic, and social goals are,
staging a world-class parade that is safe and well attended; providing opportunities for community
participation in areas and schools that previously would not have had a purpose or incentive to do
so; enhancing networks and collaboration in the creative community, building skills, job creation,
and training; and building social cohesion. In addition, the Carnival hopes to create a hub for
clothing, costume, and set-building industries in the Western Cape, which is complementary to the
already established film industry.

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality is located in landlocked Free State province and is the
eighth largest municipality in South Africa. The city of Bloemfontein, where MACUFE takes
place, is the provincial capital and has a population of nearly half a million people. The majority of
people living in the municipality are Black Africans (83%), with the largest language groups being
Sesotho (52%), Afrikaans (16%), and Setswana (12%). The unemployment rate is nearly 28%,
which is four percentage points higher than in Cape Town, and the youth unemployment rate is
37%. However, 84% of people live in formal dwellings and 91% have access to electricity for
lighting (Statistics South Africa, Census, 2011).
The main economic activities in the Free State province are agriculture and mining, neither of
which have recently grown significantly, according to the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality
Integrated Development Plan Report (2017). Tourism is mostly domestic and occurs around
specific events, such as festivals and sports. Tourism development strategies are generally around

Snowball and Antrobus


the development of various routes (e.g. Heritage route; Tolkien trail route, Batho route), which
seek to link smaller heritage sites in the area into more attractive packages.
MACUFE takes place annually over 10 days in late September to early October. The festival
includes art, music, theatre, craft, and sports exhibitions throughout the city. MACUFE has been
running since 1997, making it one of South Africa’s most established arts and culture events. The
vision of the Festival is “to be the biggest, most culturally balanced showcase of African Arts and
Culture in the world.”
The main events of the Festival are focused around music, including mostly South African
artists, but also some high-profile international performers from the United States and other
African countries. However, it also includes stand-up comedy and an arts and crafts market, which
offers live entertainment, a beer garden, and a Basotho Cultural Village. Entrance to this part of the
Festival is free. Some venues are outdoors, or in specially erected marquees. By South African
standards, ticket prices are relatively high, ranging from R200–R350 (US$14–24).
MACUFE also incorporates a smaller theatre component through “Development Performances,
Local Theatre, Drama and Poetry,” and an “Urban Youth Festival” music event and party, which
have much lower ticket prices, and also offers sports events, such as a boxing tournament and a
soccer match (Sparta MACUFE Cup).
The Festival is organized by a private events management firm on behalf of the provincial
Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation. In 2013, the additional funding required from
various government sponsors to cover the costs of the event sparked some controversy (Free State
Times, November 23, 2013). However, the 2015 Festival received some good press coverage
emphasizing the growing international profile of the event as including international artists, and
attracting audiences from Lesotho, Namibia, and Mozambique. Values that were emphasized
included providing emerging South African artists with exposure to promoters, expanding tourism
in the province, and economic impact.
MACUFE thus takes place in a rather different environment from the Cape Town Carnival. The
city of Bloemfontein is not known for tourism and is focused mostly on servicing the agricultural
and mining interests of the province. In addition, it is a much smaller city than Cape Town and less
culturally diverse. Issues of social cohesion, broadening participation, and building interracial
understanding are thus not so prominent at MACUFE. Rather, the challenge is to establish the city
as a viable tourism destination for nonlocal residents.

Research methods
At both festivals, primary data were collected using previously tested survey instruments and
trained enumerators.
At the Cape Town Carnival, 396 interviews were conducted with attendees on the day of the
Carnival. Since the event is primarily a street festival, no stratification of the sample was possible,
beyond instructing interviewers to include as wide a variety of people as possible, so random
sampling was used. Interviews were conducted throughout the event, from early in the day to late
in the evening. The questionnaire collected information on audience demographics (age, race,
home language, and education level), home town, income, length of stay, and opinions about the
event. Event organizers provided information about spending and sponsorship.
Carnival performers include local, community-based organizations, who work with professional performers and designers. An important aim of the Carnival is to build social cohesion and
community identity through the event, as well as to develop skills in the cultural and creative


Tourism Economics XX(X)

sectors. After the Carnival, two focus groups were held with 20 participants who represented 18 of
the local community groups involved. The open-ended questions included a discussion of the
extent to which the Carnival represented the cultural diversity of the city and was successful in
fostering social cohesion; and whether the Carnival did provide opportunities for skills development in the cultural sector.
At MACUFE, interviews were conducted at all the major events during the Festival, weighted
by the expected audience size. While both local residents and visitors from outside the impact area
were interviewed, the focus was on visitors. An earlier study by the University of the Free State
(2015) Centre for Social Development tracked the number of people interviewers had to approach
before they found a visitor (tourists) as a means of estimating the proportion of local residents
compared to visitors at the various events. It ranged from an average of 1.7 at the larger events to
3.5 at smaller events. Using this as a guide, a quota of 20% for local residents and 80% for visitors
was set. In all, 553 interviews were conducted (124 with local residents and 429 with visitors).
Information was collected on respondent demographics (gender, home language, and age), place of
residence, festival activities (free and ticketed events), spending, and length of stay, as well as
opinions about their festival experiences. The MACUFE study also included a subjective QoL
measure (discussed further below). Post-event, organizers provided data on their spending,
sponsorship received, ticket sales, and festival objectives.
Methods of analysis included quantitative methods (such as the production of summary statistics, regression analysis for the QoL analysis, and economic impact analysis based on regional
multipliers) and qualitative methods (such as thematic analysis).

Results and discussion
Measuring tourism and audience diversity
Understanding the origin of visitors is important for cultural festivals, especially if one of the goals
is attracting cultural tourists as a way of generating economic impact and becoming recognized
nationally or internationally. For festivals with a mandate to include and benefit local residents, the
proportion of those from the host city may be an important indicator of regional nonmarket value.
However, determining the number of visitors and whether the research has drawn a representative
sample can be a challenge for festivals with no tickets or defined entry points. For ticketed events, a
potential source of information is where the tickets were purchased: one can assume that if the tickets
were bought outside of the host city, at least this proportion of visitors was nonlocal. For example,
data on where tickets for the largest four shows at MACUFE were bought showed that 32% of tickets
were sold in the host city Bloemfontein/Mangaung, while 68% were sold outside the impact area
before the festival took place. Since tickets could also be purchased during the festival in the host
city, this finding supports the survey data which showed that the majority of festivalgoers (78%) were
tourists, not local residents. Almost all the tourists interviewed reported that MACUFE was their
main or only reason for being in the city. In terms of visitor origins, 40% came from the province in
which the festival was hosted and 3% were from outside of South Africa.
In contrast, the Cape Town Carnival survey showed that 87% of attendees were local residents.
Of the tourists that the event attracted, only 41% reported that the Carnival was their main or only
reason for visiting Cape Town; 30% of tourists were from the province in which the even was
hosted; and 6% were from countries other than South Africa (including Australia, Canada, China,
the United Kingdom, Germany, Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Zimbabwe).

Snowball and Antrobus


The results illustrate that both the characteristics of the host cities, as well as the type of cultural
festival hosted, impact on their ability to attract cultural tourists. Cape Town is a larger city than
Bloemfontein/Mangaung, resulting in a higher proportion of local residents attending the event.
Although widely advertised, the Carnival focus is particularly on the involvement of local residents
and the celebration of diverse local cultures, both of which characteristics are likely to have
increased the proportion of local festivalgoers. The higher percentage of foreign visitors is indicative of the international tourist appeal of Cape Town, which was not apparent in Bloemfontein/
Another important figure for determining economic impact, as well as the importance of the
event in place marketing, is the proportion of visitors who were in the city specifically to attend the
festival, rather than those that happened to be present (referred to as “casuals”), or were coming to
the city for something else and changed the time of their visit to coincide with the festival (“time
switchers”). As shown (Table 1), results varied considerably between the Carnival and MACUFE:
Nearly all nonlocal visitors who attended MACUFE were there specifically to attend the festival
(94%), while less than half of the nonlocal visitors who attended the Carnival were in Cape Town
mainly or only to do so (41%).
These differences can also be explained by the characteristics of the host cities and the events:
Bloemfontein/Mangaung does not offer many other tourist activities or attractions, making it
unlikely that visitors to the festival would be time switchers or casuals. Cape Town, on the other
hand, is a well-established tourist destination, offering many other attractions. MACUFE mostly
consists of formal ticketed events, performed by professionals, with one of the main aims of the
event to raise the profile of the city through formal cultural offerings. This conceptualization of
“participation” thus fits more with the cultural policy paradigm of “Cultural Excellence” or
“Cultural Democratization,” where the emphasis is on the high quality of artistic performance in
particular genres (albeit popular ones), with audiences “consuming” a professionally produced
“product” through the purchase of a ticket.
The Carnival consists of both professional and amateur performers, with one of the main aims
being to increase active participation of a diverse range of local residents, including local schools
and community groups who participate in the construction of the floats. In this instance, participation fits with the “Cultural Democracy” paradigm, where the lines between audience and performer are blurred, and a much more active mode of participation is envisaged.
There were also significant differences between the two events in terms of audience diversity
(Table 2). Both festivals attracted about equal proportions of men and women, but the Cape Town
Carnival audiences tended to be younger, perhaps as a result of the less formal setting. In terms of
race groups, more than half the spectators were “colored” (57%), followed by Black Africans
(21%), 16% White people, and 4% Asian or Indian-origin people. Overall, 5% of festivalgoers who
were interviewed were disabled or had in their group someone with a disability.
An important way of assessing diversity is an examination of the various cultural groups
represented by the audience, rather than simply focusing on racial classifications as is often done
in South Africa and elsewhere. The demographics of the MACUFE audience appear, at first
glance (Table 2), to be much less diverse than the Carnival audience, since the vast majority of
MACUFE attendees (96.3%) were Black Africans, with much smaller groups of White (0.6%),
colored (2.9%), and Indian/Asian-origin people (0.1%). However, more cultural diversity is
found within home language groups at MACUFE than at the Cape Town Carnival. Although
nearly half (46.1%) of MACUFE respondents spoke Sesotho at home, about a fifth (19.7%)
spoke isiXhosa, with smaller groups speaking Setswana, isiZulu, and Afrikaans. The “Other”


Tourism Economics XX(X)

Table 1. Visitor origins at the Cape Town Carnival and MACUFE.
Local residents of host city as a percentage of festivalgoers
Non-South African festivalgoers (%)
Nonlocal festivalgoers from host city province (%)
Nonlocal festivalgoers whose main or only reason for being in
the city was to attend the festival (%)

Cape Town




Note: MACUFE: Mangaung African Cultural Festival.

Table 2. Audience diversity at the Cape Town Carnival and MACUFE.
CTC categories
Age groups

Population groups

Home language


Household income

CTC (%)

Under 20
Black African
Other South African


School not completed
High school completed
Professional qualification/
Up to R10,000
R30,001 or more


MACUFE categories
Black African
School not completed
High school completed
Professional qualification/
Up to R10,000
R30,001 or more


Note: MACUFE: Mangaung African Cultural Festival.

category included a small number of people (15 or less in each group) who spoke Sepedi,
Ndebele, Shona, SiSwati, Xitsonga, and Tshivenda. By contrast, two-thirds (66%) of Cape Town
Carnival festivalgoers spoke English as their home language. The next biggest language group
was Afrikaans (15%), followed by isiXhosa (9%) and other South African languages, and languages from other countries. Demographic indicators of audience diversity thus need to be
multifaceted and context-specific.

Snowball and Antrobus


Table 3. Regression results for MACUFE quality of life indicator.
Age group (categorical)
Education level (categorical)
Employment status (1 ¼ employed)
Gender (men ¼1)
Like African Music Score (1–5 scale)
Attended other music festivals in the last year (1 ¼ yes)
Adjusted R2

Coefficient (standard error)
3.038033*** (0.312511)
0.063713 (0.061846)
0.028695 (0.053838)
0.214489* (0.123197)
0.004886 (0.096027)
0.193384*** (0.060272)
0.068193 (0.104116)

Note: MACUFE: Mangaung African Cultural Festival.
*Significant at the 10% level.
***Significant at the 1% level.

Income and education groups can also be important socioeconomic indicators of cultural participation. At MACUFE, audiences were generally better educated (70% of participants had a
professional qualification or degree), and a greater proportion reported having household income
in higher categories (31% had household income for more than R30,000 per month). At the Cape
Town Carnival, much lower proportions of participants reported having tertiary education (39%)
and a much higher proportion were in the lower household income categories. It is clear that the
more commercial MACUFE, with higher ticket prices and the emphasis on professional performers, attracts a different demographic from the Carnival.
What the discussion of audience shows is that the context and type of event is important in
assessing diversity. MACUFE is a much longer event, with formal ticketed shows. The majority of
attendees were both higher income and education visitors from outside the city, which increases
the economic impact of the event because of visitor spending—an important goal of the festival.
Although MACUFE audiences are not racially diverse, they are culturally diverse in terms of home
language groups. The Cape Town Carnival, on the other hand, has a much shorter time frame and
attracts mostly local participants, who are racially diverse and some of whom come from poorer
communities. Although thus not as successful as MACUFE in attracting tourists, the Carnival
audience fits with the community and social cohesion aims of the event.

QoL measures: A quantitative analysis
The MACUFE study included a question asking respondents to rate their life satisfaction from 1 to
5, where 1 meant totally unhappy and dissatisfied and 5 meant totally happy and satisfied. The
results were then correlated with other variables, after which an ordinary least squares (OLS)
regression was run to determine their statistical significance when holding variables constant
(Table 3).
More than half of respondents at MACUFE rated their life satisfaction as 5 (totally satisfied),
with a further 20% rating it very highly (4 out of 5). Only 23% rated their life satisfaction as a 3 or
lower. The average score was 4.20.1 Although MACUFE is a festival that covers many cultural
genres, the majority of events are related in some way to music (jazz, gospel, divas, and “main”


Bridging funds made available; pre-Carnival workshops
valuable for skills and network development
access and

Note: CTC: Cape Town Carnival.

Development of


Cultural diversity
and social

Positive dimensions: What worked well for participants

The CTC team reaches out to all the communities
regardless of location or economic status; making sure
that everybody works together as one; identification of
broad, inclusive Carnival theme
Meetings where group leaders get to know each other and
develop healthy relationships; interaction with people of
all cultures and ages makes it easy to make a connection
The CTC reaches out to communities that do not have a
way of being seen or noticed
Leadership and Managed by an extremely talented and creative team who
create a family environment. High levels of trust between
participants and Carnival management team
Training and
Working with professionals; informal interactions where
knowledge, skills and networks are shared



Table 4. Qualitative analysis of community focus groups at the CTC.

Need greater continuity and more events throughout the
year; greater inclusion of groups from rural areas; use
social networks to stay in touch
Take the Carnival to the communities from which groups
come; facilitate greater media coverage
Organize a formal debrief to avoid anticlimax; explore ways
of overcoming racial and locational definitions of
Better leveraging of opportunities for participants to join
the creative economy (start-ups; intergenerational
training; use of skills already in the group)
Provision of transport; better use of social media to enable
greater interaction between participants; developing and
sharing a database of participant skills

After-party is not for everyone; conduct a survey of
different cultures in Cape Town and invite them all

Negative dimensions: Aspects that need improvement

Snowball and Antrobus


Table 5. The economic impact of MACUFE and the Cape Town Carnival (in millions of Rands).
Total organizer amount spent locally (in millions of Rands)
Net visitor spending (in millions of Rands)
Total captured spending in impact area (in millions of Rands)
Indirect multiplier effects: Local output multiplier
Total economic impact (in millions of Rands)

Cape Town Carnival




Note: MACUFE: Mangaung African Cultural Festival.

music festival), particularly celebrating African music and musicians. Other than the soccer, these
are also the events which attracted the largest audiences. To reduce the number of variables in the
study, the focus of this exploratory research was specifically related to the relationship between
African music and QoL. To this end, respondents were also asked to rate their enjoyment of
African music on a 1 to 5 scale. Building on the theory of “rational addiction” in cultural consumption (i.e. that increased consumption increases intensity of appreciation, which in turn
increases consumption), it is reasonable to assume that those with a greater intensity of liking for
African music are more likely to be frequent consumers. However, in a developing country context
where many people have low levels of disposable income to spend on attendance at cultural events,
appreciation of music may not necessarily correlate with attendance.
Unsurprisingly, given that the interviews were being conducted at a festival with a large African
music component, the vast majority of MACUFE respondents rated their enjoyment of African
music as either a 4 (30.4%) or 5 (56.7%) out of 5. The average score was 4.4. To determine other
live music consumption, respondents were also asked if they had attended “any other live music
events or festivals in the last year, other than MACUFE.” Two-thirds (67%) of respondents said
that they had done so.
An OLS regression was then used to investigate the relationship between QoL, the self-reported
enjoyment level for African music, and the frequency of attendance at other cultural festivals, by
MACUFE audiences. Control variables were sex, age group, education level, household income,
and employment. However, given the high correlation between household income and education
(0.4), the regression analysis excluded household income.
The following model was run:
QoLi ¼ C þ aAgei þ bEduci þ gEmpli þ dSexi þ qLikei þ tOtherFesti þ ei :
The model did not perform particularly well, explaining only 3% of the variation in life
satisfaction. Of the control variables, the only statistically significant one (at the 10% level) was
employment, indicating that being employed had a positive impact on QoL score, while holding
all other variables constant. This is supported by a previous finding by Ebrahim et al. (2013),
which showed that, in South Africa, employment status has a bigger impact on life satisfaction
than earnings.
The analysis did show a strong positive relationship (at the 1% level of significance) between
the liking for African music score and life satisfaction. Holding all the other variables constant, a
one-unit increase in liking African music score is associated with a 0.19-unit increase in life
satisfaction. Interestingly, the frequency of attendance at other cultural festivals over the preceding
3 years was not a statistically significant determinant of QoL.


Tourism Economics XX(X)

The data from MACUFE suggest that a greater liking for the kind of music offered at the festival
is positively related to higher levels of personal well-being or QoL for both tourists and local
residents. This is an important finding in terms of the “intrinsic” cultural value theme. Such values
are related to individual emotion and spiritual responses to arts and culture and linked to the notion
of artistic quality or excellence (Holden and Balta, 2012). These nonmarket values are often
difficult or impossible to measure in monetary terms, but may be just as, if not more important
than, instrumental values in demonstrating the importance of the arts and in justifying public
support (Snowball, 2011). As one of the most important African cultural music festivals in the
country, MACUFE plays a significant role in increasing cultural supply, both through hosting the
festival, and by giving African artists exposure and experience that may help to develop their
careers. By increasing the supply of African music, MACUFE plays a part in increasing the QoL
for both local residents and tourists.
Some limitations of the study need to be acknowledged. Data were collected at a specific
cultural festival with a strong focus on African music and artists. Since interviews were mostly
conducted at ticketed events, respondents were also mostly limited to those who could afford to
purchase a ticket. It should also be noted that the question was about the intensity of liking for
African music, rather than actual attendance or participation at live music events. More work needs
to be done before results can be generalized to other groups.

Cultural participation and social cohesion
The Cape Town Carnival blurs the line between consumption and production in that one of their
very important goals is to build social cohesions through community participation. In terms of the
cultural policy paradigms discussed earlier, their approach could be described as “Cultural
Democracy,” where participation is conceptualized as far more active than the purchase of a ticket
followed by passive viewing or experiencing of an event produced by professionals. At the Carnival, the floats are produced largely by community groups, assisted by technical specialists, in the
months leading up to the event itself.
In terms of the SACO framework, these values could fit into the “Human Capital and Professional Capacity Building” theme, which focuses on the skills and experiences gained by artistic
producers and others involved with the supply-side of the event. However, the strong community
focus of the Carnival, and its role in bringing diverse community groups together, could also be
seen as part of the “Social Cohesion and Community Development” theme.
Evaluation of the social goals of the event was conducted using qualitative techniques, taking
into account the opinions of the intended beneficiaries themselves. After the Carnival, two focus
group discussions with representatives of the community groups involved with producing the
Carnival floats and displays were held. The focus group discussions explored two main areas,
linked to the event aims: The Carnival’s role in showcasing cultural diversity and building social
cohesion; and the development of professional capacity of creative entrepreneurs. Discussion
included both ways in which the Carnival was succeeding and ways in which it could be improved.
Discussions were transcribed and organized into “themes”—particular narratives organized
around specific (sometimes implicit) topics that emerged from the data (Vaismoradi et al., 2016).
The two major themes that emerged, given the guiding questions, were then divided into subthemes (Table 4). For example, within the cultural diversity and social cohesion theme, topics, or
subthemes, that emerged were related to community inclusion, participation, recognition, and the
importance of leadership and coordination. Within each of these subthemes, areas where the

Snowball and Antrobus


community participants were of the opinion that the Carnival was meeting its goals (referred to as
“positive dimensions”) as well as areas where things could be improved (referred to as “negative
dimensions”) were expressed.
Results showed that, for many participants, the feeling of being included and recognized, as
well as the opportunity to participate, both formally in the event itself, and informally during
preparations, were key contributors to their perceptions of the value of the event. Challenges
identified in this area were often related to practical issues, such as ways of overcoming geographical problems caused by the fact that many of the communities who participate in the Carnival live in outlying areas and, coming from lower-income households, were not easily able to pay
for transportation into the city center where the Carnival was held. Another key subtheme was
recognition: Community participants greatly valued the sense of their worth and importance that
participation in the Carnival engendered (positive dimension) but noted that holding the event in
the city center made it inaccessible to lower-income communities (negative dimension). It was
suggested that facilitating greater media coverage of the event (including social media) could play
a role in increasing accessibility.
The development of professional capacity among creative entrepreneurs, linked to developing
sustainable careers in the creative economy, is also an important festival aim. Key subthemes here
were the opportunities provided to develop through collaboration, both with those employed as
specialists to help participants (such as choreographers and costume designers), but also between
participants themselves. A challenge for many cultural events is that they take place over a short
space of time, while career development and training are longer-term goals. Suggestions were
made to extend the impact of the Carnival by, for example, developing and sharing a database of
participants and their skills for the facilitation of future collaboration.
Qualitative research, such as using focus group discussions with thematic analysis, may be
extremely valuable in assessing the extent to which a cultural event is meeting its goals. Audience
opinion surveys are most useful where “participation” is conceptualized as an audience that is
“consuming” a cultural experience produced by professionals (cultural democratization paradigm).
For the cultural democracy paradigm where participants are seen in both roles (sometimes called
“prosumers”), more detailed, qualitative analysis may be more appropriate.

Economic impact
Tourism events attract “new” money into the impact region and create indirect and induced impacts
through re-spending of the initial injection (the multiplier effect) that can be measured using economic
impact studies. In terms of the SACO framework, economic impact fits into the “Inclusive Economic
Growth” theme. Economic impact studies are prone to many forms of bias (see Snowball, 2008) but are
popular because they can provide quantifiable evidence of the financial value of an event to the host
city or region. However, economic impact results depend very much on the characteristics of the event
itself (length, number of nonlocal visitors, sponsorship from outside the impact area), as well as the
economic structure and reputation of the host city.
For example, most researchers argue that expenditure by local residents should not be
included in economic impact studies. The same applies to sponsorship from inside the impact
area, since it is likely that, even if the event had not taken place, this money would still have been
spent in the impact area, on something else (Crompton, 2006; Crompton et al., 2001; Snowball,
2008). A high proportion of local attendees at a festival is thus likely to result in a lower economic impact number.


Tourism Economics XX(X)

Determining the number of attendees is one of the most important tasks in festival research, both
for determining the social and the economic impact of the event. There are a number of methods
available for calculating attendee numbers based on, for example, ticket sales and crowd density
counts. For MACUFE, the ticket sales method was used, and it was estimated that the 10-day event
attracted about 17,000 tourists, who stayed for an average of 4 days each (68,000 visitor days), as
well as 8200 local residents. For the Cape Town Carnival, crowd density counts, survey data on the
average number of hours that each person participated, along with organizer data were used. It was
estimated that the event attracted an audience of 44,900 people. However, only 13% (5 800) were
tourists, and only 41% of these (2400) were in the city specifically to attend the Carnival.
The economic structure of the host city also affects the economic impact through the local
capture rate (i.e. the percentage of visitor and organizer spending that is “captured” in the local
market for at least one round), as well as the multiplier size. Cape Town, which has a larger
population and more diversified economy, has a higher capture rate and spending multiplier than
Bloemfontein/Mangaung. However, MACUFE attracts a much higher percentage of nonlocal
visitors and takes place over a much longer time period than the Cape Town Carnival (Table 5).
The South African Festivals Economic Impact Calculator (developed by Seaman and Snowball
for the SACO) was used to calculate the economic impact of both events. The total economic
impact of MACUFE 2016 was calculated as R103.4 million and R41.1 million2 for the Cape Town
Carnival. The differences can be explained by both event characteristics (such as duration and the
focus on tourists versus local residents)and the structure of host cities themselves.
Another important factor to consider is the sources of event sponsorship. For example, MACUFE
received a total of public sponsorship from national and provincial government of R44 million,3 with
a much smaller proportion (R6m) coming from private sources. The Cape Town Carnival received
R13 million4 in sponsorship, of which only R3.3m was from national or provincial public sources. In
comparing the public “returns” from these two cultural festivals, one has to keep in mind not only
their very different characteristics and aims but also the source of their funding. In the case of
MACUFE, the public spending to economic impact ratio was 1:2.4, while for the Carnival it was
1:12.5. Despite the smaller size of the Carnival, it might be considered a better public investment in
some ways, given how little the public sector had to invest per Rand of additional economic impact.
In terms of maximizing the economic impact from cultural tourists, larger cities (with bigger
multipliers and fewer outflows) can be more successful in attracting audiences and retaining tourist
spending. However, bigger cities (like Cape Town), which have larger home populations and other
cultural attractions, also tend to result in higher proportions of local event attendees and fewer
people who are in the host city specifically to attend the event, both of which decreases tourist
numbers and economic impact. Smaller cities, like Mangaung, may have more outflows and lower
multipliers, but as long as they have the infrastructure to provide for tourists, and the event is wellmarketed enough to attract tourist numbers, may have a larger regional economic impact from
cultural events because of a lower proportion of local attendees and a higher proportion of visitors
to the city who are there specifically to attend the event.

While cultural tourism has become a popular part of local economic development strategies, the
sustainability of the festivals that drive tourism depends on their careful management and monitoring, not only in terms of their ability to attract tourists but also in terms of the impacts on local
populations. The rising number of festivals in South Africa, as in other countries, has led to greater

Snowball and Antrobus


competition for tourists between various host cities and an increasing emphasis on valuation of the
impacts of such events. In addition, funders in postapartheid South Africa, as in other places, are
starting to demand that tourist events also consider their social impact, especially in building more
diverse audiences, enhancing access and participation, and building social cohesion.
This article demonstrated ways of applying a multidimensional valuation framework to two
very different South African city festivals, based on the monitoring and evaluation framework
developed by the SACO. Rather than focusing on economic impact alone, the research included
examples of how to assess audience diversity, as well as the more difficult-to-measure social and
intrinsic cultural values associated with cultural festivals. The article thus aimed to add to the
theoretical literature on the measurement and valuation of cultural events that attract tourists, as
well as suggesting practical ways in which such tools could be applied. By contrasting two cultural
festivals in two cities, the article also contributes to the research on the characteristics of host cities
and events that are likely to be more or less successful in attracting cultural tourists.
The results suggest that longer festivals in medium-sized cities, as evidenced by the MACUFE
music festival, can be successful in attracting cultural tourists and generating economic benefits for
the region. MACUFE takes place over 10 days and is organized around traditional ticket shows. It
has a large budget and receives much funding from public sources. It has been successful in
attracting a large number of cultural tourists to the city, most of whom are from higher income and
education groups, and are there primarily to attend the festival, which results in a large economic
impact. While not diverse in racial terms, MACUFE audiences are culturally diverse when home
language is considered. MACUFE helps to increase the supply of African music, which is associated with increased QoL for festival attendees.
Shorter festivals in big cities, especially those with a strong focus on local communities, can be
successful in attracting audiences and reaching social goals but may not be able to attract many
cultural tourists and are thus likely to have a smaller economic impact. For example, the Cape
Town Carnival is a 1-day event with a strong social and community focus, which is held in a large
metropolitan area. It attracts a large audience, but most are local residents from lower income and
education groups, not cultural tourists specifically in the city to attend the Carnival. It depends
mostly of private funding and has much lower economic impact than MACUFE. However, it has
important social and skills-development goals with regards to supporting local communities, and
there is evidence that the beneficiaries regard the Carnival as at least partly successful in doing so.
Moving forward, it is argued that flexible valuation frameworks that make use of a wider variety
of indicators are likely to be more valuable to both event organizers and funders than singleindicator figures like economic impact. In managing and promoting cultural events, careful
thought needs to be given to the balance between attracting cultural tourists and maximizing
economic impact, versus the equally important social benefits to local communities.
Authors’ note
The original reports on which this research is based were produced for the South African Cultural Observatory, which is a national research organization funded by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Republic
of South Africa.

Declaration of conflicting interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.


Tourism Economics XX(X)

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the South African Cultural
Observatory, which is funded by the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, South Africa.

Jen D Snowball

Supplemental material
Supplemental material for this article is available online.

1. It should be noted that some econometricians would argue that an average score is not a valid method of
analysis, since the 1 to 5 scale is an ordered categorical variable not a continuous variable. However, since
higher numbers (scores) do denote greater satisfaction, we would argue that averages do provide some
useful information in this context.
2. R103.3m and R41.1  US$7.1m and US$2.8m, respectively, where 1USD  ZAR14.5
3.  US$3.03m
4.  US$0.9m

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Author biographies
Jen D Snowball is a professor of Economics at Rhodes University and has done some work on the cultural
and creative industries for the South African Cultural Observatory. Her research in cultural economics has
focused on the use of market and nonmarket valuation methods, especially as they apply to cultural
Geoff G Antrobus is professor emeritus of Economics at Rhodes University and a researcher for the South
African Cultural Observatory. His work in cultural economics has focused on the economic impact of
festivals. His other areas of interest are agricultural and environmental economics.