It’s not hyperbolic to say that the USA’s festival scene has transformed the country’s landscape and revitalised communities. Austin, for example, has doubled resident numbers as a direct result of its SXSW and Austin City Limits events. These mainstays are also credited with attracting permanent bases from the likes of Google.
Like the UK, the USA’s festival and event history is nothing short of iconic. Bob Dylan ‘going electric’ at 1965’s Newport Folk Festival, Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar on stage at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, and Daft Punk emerging in an LED-laden pyramid at 2006’s Coachella are now globally enshrined cultural references. And that’s not to mention Las Vegas’ continued re-invention.
The US has also been at the forefront of using festivals to stimulate business and innovation. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak used mass events, dubbed ‘the US Festivals’, to encourage the 1980s ‘yuppie’ generation to be more ‘community-oriented’. He even paid for the bulldozing and construction of an open-air venue and an enormous temporary stage at Glen Helen Regional Park near Devore, San Bernardino, California.
But what will define the next generation of events? Visionaries on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, certainly have the fiscal and entrepreneurial clout to take events into orbit, but – after talking to some of the world’s leading eventprofs – Access discovers that Space Age thinking has already permeated the events world, and will continue to revolutionise more earthly innovations long after the first champagne corks pop into orbit.