Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 May 2020
This chapter examines the wave of smaller performing arts festivals in North America and Europe that emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century. The author argues that this ‘second wave’ of international performing arts festivals prefigured the potential for new social relationships and artistic processes and shifted the event horizon around what constitutes a festival performance. To chart the ‘second wave’ is to diagram larger, systemic transformations from the cultural to creative industries, the rise of the ‘creative city’, and the rupturing of progressive social movements. This chapter links the imaginative realm of site-specific, socially engaged work and the activist realm of movement-building to explore how new forms of relational play exceed the very time of festival. If once international performing arts festivals were recruited to rebuild relations between nations, and later enrolled to bolster the economies of cities, ‘second-wave’ festivals have also shown that they can redistribute their resources to communities and support forms of belonging organized around the practice of place rather than its territorial claim over it.