The Politics of City Imaging: The MTV Europe Music Awards Edinburgh 03

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Abstract

In November 2003 the city of Edinburgh hosted the MTV Europe Music Awards. This article discusses the event's contribution to Edinburgh's reimaging and local involvement. After outlining links between cultural events and contemporary urban policy, an in-depth case study charts the evolution of the MTV Europe Awards Edinburgh 03 and how it became embroiled in local political realities. The event became politicized because MTV was given £750 thousand public subsidy to part-fund the show's temporary structure and the outside broadcast costs of a simultaneous live concert in Edinburgh's city center Princes Street Gardens. Officials argued that, beyond the local economic benefit—estimated initially at £4 million—this was justified as the event offered extensive local inclusion and unique promotional opportunities that would give the city's conservative image a contemporary edge. They believed Edinburgh's reimaging as an exciting short-break destination would occur because of the association with A-list celebrities and MTV's innovative marketing that connected with the global traveling, yet elusive, "MTV generation." MTV found Edinburgh an ideal city as its experienced events team eased production of their complex "live" television show, while its young people and iconic place features gave the show a distinctive narrative. The article's key finding is that MTV's desire for these place features to reimage their television show meant the event primarily benefited them and the local tourist industry. MTV happily fostered local involvement—creating memorable moments for participants—but their celebrity and place focus meant their voices were often marginalized. This was accentuated because the local newspaper, part of a group often critical of public sector organizers, emphasized: the event's cost and disruption, the inappropriate actions of public officials, and MTV's ticket allocation to corporate clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalEvent Management
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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