Event Travel Careers of Singaporean Artists and Producers: An Arts-Informed Life History Approach
Artists and producers engage in event tourism in the course of their leisure and work but existing research on event tourism has placed emphasis on the event audience rather than artists and producers at events. An event travel career is developed when a person travels to participate in events ranging from local to regional and international scale. Getz and Andersson (2010) event travel career trajectory (ETCT) has been used to study serious amateur sport athletes and yoga devotees, looking at motivations, changing travel styles, spatial and temporal patterns, event and destination choices and their competing priorities as constraints to travel. However, participants in the arts world have not yet been identified as serious event tourists. Further, the event travel career progression of artists and producers in the performing arts world has yet to be established to determine their purpose, and frequency of travel at each stage of their career. This study aims to investigate how amateur and professional artists and producers develop their event travel career using the ETCT to examine the factors that constrain or facilitate their event travel career, the extent to which artists and producers conceptualize themselves as serious event tourists, and the role open access and other events play in the ETCT. A social constructionist paradigm is adopted with the use of an arts-informed life history approach to gather and interpret the stories of 19 Singaporean artists and producers representing three generations. The participants are well known to the researcher who performed the role of both the insider (member of Singapore arts community) and the outsider (PhD researcher) in this study. The arts-informed method involved creative inquiries (memory maps, drawings, and symbolic items) to invite participants to construct their ETCT visually over three research meetings. Pamphilon’s (1999) zoom model was adapted to analyze and interpret the stories in three parts: individually; against the participants’ cohort; and as part of the macro environment. The findings shed new light on the foundational stage of event travel career; the constraints, facilitators and motivations to travel; and social world events and destinations as key drivers in the development of an event travel career. The findings also revealed higher travel activity by the semi-professional and professional artists and producers in the arts, unlike the amateurs in sport tourism. This study contributes to the field of theory by developing an integrative framework of event travel careers, that incorporates Unruh’s social world theory and Stebbins’ serious leisure career perspective to examine and trace the event travel career development of serious event travellers. The study suggests that artists and producers are serious event travellers who start as hobbyists or leisurists before they develop their event travel career as semi-professionals and professionals. This study also contributes a different context in the study of ETCT by focusing on the development of Singapore’s arts scene, through the ETCTs of her artists and producers as amateurs, semi-professionals, and professionals – a move from the Western context found in extant research on event travel careers. Further, this study contributes methodologically to the development of the use of the arts-informed life history approach with Pamphilon’s (1999) zoom model, to enable a more holistic and structured analysis of the individuals’ stories, and the macro-environment of Singapore. The arts-informed life history research approach provides fruitful ground for future research in event travel career and should be repeated. It is capable of eliciting information about the past beyond the principal topic to inform the present.