Power within the festival production process


This paper is based on qualitative studies of festival production. Together with my colleagues, we conducted 48 interviews with employees, co-workers and volunteers who worked at 12 festivals located in Poland. Main problem discussed here is “How people are governed in the process of festival production?” The system of differentiations that permits one to govern the others is the position in the network of relations. This network is a product of previous festivals, thus, the festival itself is both a stream of social network production and a competitive effort of individuals aiming to accumulate as many of these relations as possible. Individuals acting in the process of festival production aim to gain accurate position within the cultural field. Funding rules are the most important source of power over this sector. Both the precarious character of ‘work’ in a cultural field, especially in festivals production, and its continuous demand for a low paid and free labor, are related to neoliberal governing at the central, political level. This governing needs specific type of subject, which might be called active.

Keywords: power, Foucault, cultural field, festivals

This is a preprint of the article submitted to the international conference „Social boundaries of work. Changes in the sphere of work in the 21st century capitalism”


My paper aims to describe ‘human resource management’ in a festival production process. In other words, I would like to discuss how some individuals govern the others, during a production of cultural event, how their actions influence each other, how strategic games between liberties (Foucault 1988: 19) look within the field of festival production. I will try to describe techniques of power and struggles, that are connected to festival production, using the conceptual framework elaborated by Michel Foucault.