Urban revitalization in post-EXPO’98 Lisbon: art festivals in the public space

Abstract: This thesis is part of the research strand that relates cultural activities and urban public space, focusing specifically on the art(s) festivals that took place in the city of Lisbon after EXPO’98. There has been a considerable increase in these ephemeral initiatives since this World Exhibition took place, aggravated by a context of profound cultural and urban transformations for the Portuguese capital. Consequently, a discussion about concrete dynamics and policies in the Lisbon territory, globally evidenced in the post-modern trends of ‘festivalization of culture’ and ‘city eventfulness’, is addressed here. Indeed, the processes that foster a revitalization of the city (renewal, regeneration, requalification) have known very different goals and results, often mobilizing cultural activities and ‘events’, with special emphasis on the ‘art(s) festival’ format, not yet properly studied from this perspective. Thus, this work analyzes the evolution of these festivals in the spatiotemporal period in question and their participation in urban revitalization processes, assessing their limits and potential regarding territorial development. A model for the assessment of the impacts of this type of cultural initiative on territories and communities is proposed, notably applied to three indepth case studies – Festival TODOS, initiatives of the Extra]muros[ Association, Festival PEDRAS – , which will hopefully encourage future research and evaluations. In short, the important role of the ‘art(s) festival’ and its effects on the survival and reinvention of contemporary cities, especially for Lisbon, is discussed, seeking to infer some generic principles of action for promoters, curators and decision-makers, among others.




José Miguel Pereira Concha