Exporting World Class Expertise in Festival Management

Edinburgh Napier University is a world leader in festival management and is exporting their expertise around the world. In December 2019, with British Council investment, Edinburgh Napier ran the Gulf Festival Academy in Oman. The Gulf has a rich and varied culture of festivals which create spaces for the sharing of a nation’s sense of identity.


Gulf countries want to diversify their economies, but they are still largely reliant on oil revenues. Festivals hosted in these regions have the opportunity to make a difference by contributing socially, culturally and economically to these countries. 


Through Edinburgh Napier University’s flexible and bespoke continuous professional development (CPD) provision, we are exporting our festival management expertise so that the vibrant festivals of Gulf countries can become socio-economic contributors to their economies. The Gulf Festival Academy is a three-day workshop which supports attendees in developing their skills in festival management, stakeholder management, business modelling, audience development and digital presence.

A Changing Model

Some more traditional Gulf festivals focus on craft and heritage while others display contemporary art and host live performances. They offer employment for the local population and boost tourism but many Gulf festivals are experiencing tightening budgets. This is due to moving from a state-funded model towards a business model, meaning a greater reliance on earned income such as sponsorship, fundraising and event revenues.

Celebrating New Skills

Edinburgh Napier University ran the Gulf Festival Academy in Oman in 2019 to help festival professionals in the Gulf adapt to this changing context. Participants from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all came together to learn more about developing new audiences, venues and ways of working. During the Academy the attendees developed their skills in festival management and had the opportunity to discuss their festival’s vision and how they saw it developing in the future. The Academy also aimed to encourage participants to find new ways of operating their festivals sustainably through sharing experiences with their peers and learning the principles of festival management. 

Through sharing our expertise, we are training festivals to develop their business models and diversify their income streams.
Dr Gary Kerr, Edinburgh Napier University

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Participants of Festival Academies have the chance to learn about developing new audiences and network with others in their field.
Rosemary Parkhill, British Council