Divergent Paths in Regional Economic Development: A Tale of Two Festival Towns


  • Ross Nelson
  • Patrik Ström
  • Jonas Bjälesjö


This study compares how two small communities in rural settings tried to promote sustained economic development by capitalizing on local music festivals. Merritt, British Columbia, Canada, home to a large country music event, focused on place branding, marketing, and related entertainment initiatives. Hultsfred, Sweden, in contrast, used its iconic rock festival to create a year-round music industry cluster called RockCity. Our study argues that the alternative strategies reflect fundamental differences in economic development policies and governance structures. We subsequently question whether RockCity-like cluster initiatives are possible in the Canada without coordinated tools and programs for supporting cultural industries in small communities. 

Author Biographies

Ross Nelson

Ross Nelson, PhD

Faculty of Arts

Box 3010, 900 McGill Rd

Thompson Rivers University

Kamloops, BC, Canada V2C 5N3


Patrik Ström

Patrik Ström, PhD

Department of Human and Economic Geography,

School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg

Box 630

S-405 30 Gothenburg


Jonas Bjälesjö

Jonas Bjälesjö

Baltic Business School

Linnaeus University