As events are becoming increasingly popular, they can be a useful development tool for cities, sometimes even referred to as providing cities’ regeneration. In the case of the European Commission’s Capital of Culture project, events can also help boost the confidence and pride of local communities by sharing their culture with other Europeans and celebrating both European cultural diversity and unity within that. However, many scholars have written about the concept of ‘authenticity’ related to either the concept of experience or related to events. Some scholars mention that cultural events must be perceived as authentic to be a tool for gaining benefits of all sorts. This thesis contributes to the existing literature by linking the concept of authenticity to the European Capitals of Culture project, by analyzing authenticity’s role in the experience of the events organized under the umbrella of the Capitals of Culture. By gaining knowledge about this role, Capitals of Culture can be adapted even further to wishes and demands from their target group: all Europeans, including locals living in the region of the Capital of Culture and national and international visitors. A case study was adopted to explore this role: one of the Capitals of Culture in 2018: Leeuwarden-Friesland. In-depth interviews were held with a very diverse sample of the target group, to gain as many views as possible. Before these interviews were held, events from the offer of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 were selected based on their level of possibly being perceived as authentic by (potential) visitors and served as a basis of the interviews to get an insight into the importance of authenticity. These interviews were analyzed mainly by using Cohen’s 1972 and 1979 typologies for tourist types and tourist modes, which links directly to our two main concepts, authenticity and experience. Conclusions are given, which are very relevant for many stakeholders in the Capitals of Culture, on many different levels.
Author: L. Joenoes (2018)