A-S:L named as Associate Partners of FESTSPACE research project to explore cultural impact of festivals & events in public spaces


Austin-Smith:Lord named as Associate Partners of FESTSPACE research project to explore cultural impact of festivals & events in public spaces

Researchers from The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) have been awarded funding from Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) to study the cultural impact of festivals and events held in public spaces. Austin-Smith:Lord are delighted to be named as Associate Partners of UWS in this exciting project.

UWS will lead the project, which will also involve leading academics from University of Westminster, Technological University Dublin, University of Gothenburg and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.

The FESTSPACE project will explore how festivals and events create or restrict access to public spaces, and the ways in which they bring together people from different cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds in Glasgow, Dublin, Gothenburg, London and Barcelona.

Eight other non-academic partners will join Austin-Smith:Lord in the two-year research programme, including Glasgow Life, European Festivals Association and Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG), ensuring researchers have access to current strategies and plans to facilitate the research.

Film screening at the Happenstance, Venice Bienalle. Image Credit: Graham Ross

It is hoped non-academic partners will be able to use the findings of the two-year project to inform future cultural event strategies and planning.

Professor David McGillivray, Project Lead and Professor at the School of Media, Culture and Society at UWS, said: “Scotland’s cities are playing host to more outdoor festivals and events than ever before, with local authorities beginning to see the wider benefits of bringing diverse communities together.

Our research will examine the ways in which various publics interact with public spaces, the impact outdoor festivals and events have on communities, and their ability to encourage inclusion. People have personal connections to festivals and events, giving weight to the theory that these events are central to community identity and social cohesion.”

Helensburgh Outdoor Museum
Outdoor Museum, Helensburgh. Image Credit: Keith Hunter Photography

Graham Ross, Partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: “As a design practice our work in urban planning, landscape design, conservation and architecture across the UK involves working with local communities and authorities in shaping public space. We’re fascinated by the design challenge of fusing an evidence-based, human-centric participatory planning approach to public space design that simultaneously captures the essence and sense of a place.”

To quote Patrick Geddes, ‘a city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time’. Successful public spaces provide a setting for shared events and individual experiences; from the routine to the spectacular. We look forward to exploring, with colleagues on the research team, how the design and events occurring within public spaces defines the culture, identity and civic health of a place.

Graham Ross will be taking part in a panel discussion at the launch event in Paisley on 14th June. Entry to the event is free. For more details and to register your name, click on the link below:



For more information on HERA, and the FESTSPACE project, follow this link: