The impacts of a major South African arts festival: the voices of the community

02 March 2015

One of the fastest growing segments of tourism globally is that of events and festivals. In the South African arena alone, there are more than 300 annual festivals of which arts festivals especially have grown significantly. These arts festivals aim to provide unique experiences to both tourists and residents. The communities act as the hosts, and to sustain their members’ support for their festivals it is important to determine their perceptions of the impacts of these festivals and aspects influencing these perceptions. Ultimately, negative attitudes towards the event and the visitors may create difficulties and endanger the sustainability of any particular festival. The aim of this research is therefore to determine the impacts of an arts festival on the community and identify differences in perceptions based on socio-demographic characteristics. The quantitative research was conducted by means of a survey during the annual Aardklop National Arts Festival (Potchefstroom). A factor analysis was performed to determine the underlying impacts of the festival on the residents, while t-tests and ANOVAs were used to determine differences between various demographic variables and the impact statements. The factor analysis revealed five factors that were labelled: Positive economic impacts; Negative community impacts; Positive community impacts; Community opportunities and Tourism impacts. This study identified very few significant differences between gender, qualification and occupation regarding the impacts which are important in the planning and marketing of the festival. Thus the festival impacts positively on the community but attention can be given to the negative impacts of the festival