Giuseppe Marco Attanasi, Fortuna Casoria, Samuele Centorrino, and Giulia Urso, “Cultural investment, local development and instantaneous social capital: A case study of a gathering festival in the South of Italy”, TSE Working Paper, n. 12-291, February 2012.
In this paper we show how the investment in cultural events may encourage the building of social capital and foster the development of local communities. We rely on a casestudy that we conducted about the socio-economic impact of the Festival “La Notte della Taranta”, the most important European music festival dedicated to traditional music (about 170.000 participants per year), on the sub-region of southern Italy where it is held. Our evidence is based on a large survey, consisting of nearly 10.000 interviews to Festival participants over a span of five editions (2007-2011). A primary result is that the initial economic investment in the Festival has brought a short-term return in terms of touristic attraction worth more than two times as much. More importantly, our results indicate that a cultural festival, despite being a mass gathering, is able to create strong bonds among its participants and between them and the area where the event takes place. Although these bonds are “instantaneous”, i.e. temporally restricted to the duration of the event, they are positively correlated with the economic impact of the event on the territory.