University in Belgrade
Faculty of Philology
The English Department
Research Paper in British Cultural Studies
Identity of ...
Contents
Chapter Page
1. Introduction and a short note on Serbian identity…………….……...………...….3
2. Phases of EXIT’s identit...
Introduction and a Short note on Serbian Identity
Identity may be defined as one of the most intriguing concepts because i...
will pop up in the foreigners’ mind. One of the reasons why such answers are expected is
the fact that Serbia is rarely a ...
I EXIT Phase – The 100-day EXIT and First Comments
The student movements are always a response on the political, economic ...
with huge potential, worth investing and supporting once the political climate changed.
The campaign in 2002 was named Ser...
When EXIT’s identity and future were more secure, corporate social responsibility (CSR)
was included more extensively into...
As EXIT’s impact on the European entertainment scene grew and the quality of the
festival rapidly improved, international ...
To analyse how international media represent EXIT we may take into account the articles
and headlines that appeared on the...
In previous parts of the paper we discussed how EXIT developed its identity in 3 phases
and how the British media portraye...
The final phase in shaping EXIT’s identity is based on communicating with audience
primarily via Internet and social media...
Presentation questions:
 How did political situation influence EXIT entertainment?
 Explain how EXIT advocated CSR as th...
Bibliography and Additional Material
In this paper diverse internet resources were used- from the official EXIT website to...
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British Cultural Studies, Research Paper on the Identity of Exit Festival

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British Cultural Studies, Research Paper on the Identity of Exit Festival

  1. 1. University in Belgrade Faculty of Philology The English Department Research Paper in British Cultural Studies Identity of EXIT and its Presentation in the UK Media Professor: Dr Biljana Djoric-Francuski Student: Milena Milicevic Index Number: 060930 Belgrade, June 2009
  2. 2. Contents Chapter Page 1. Introduction and a short note on Serbian identity…………….……...………...….3 2. Phases of EXIT’s identity…….……………………………………………….......4 3. I The 100-day EXIT………………………....…………….....................................5 4. II From Ready for the Future to I don’t Give my EXIT......................................... 5 5. III Corporate Social Responsibility of EXIT……………………………………...7 6. Media coverage and remarkable awards ……………………………………….....8 7. A sample of media messages on EXIT…………………………………………....9 8. Some foggy areas about EXIT promotion………………………….......................9 9. How do Britons relate EXIT to their culture?…………….…………...…..……..10 10. IV EXIT and audience use interactive social media…………………………......11 11. Presentation Questions…………………………………………………………...12 12. Bibliography and Additional Material…………………………………………...12
  3. 3. Introduction and a Short note on Serbian Identity Identity may be defined as one of the most intriguing concepts because it is highly personal and multifaceted. In an attempt to determine an individual’s identity scientifically, we may end up with diverse cultural identifiers that contribute to that identity and analyze it in various aspects. “Place, gender, race, history, nationality, language, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity and aesthetics are just some of the identifiers.’’1 Aspects of identity are often perceived as inherent or conventionally conditioned characteristics. However, sometimes they are prone to a change due to individual’s actions and decisions or due to the influence of external factors. Nevertheless, it is a challenge to explain any aspect of identity, especially in layman’s terms. For instance, after the extensive research an expert may pinpoint which characteristics are inherent in Serbian mentality, but it will be tremendously difficult to explain why some features are higher on the list and why some others are hardly visible, at least in the statistic body the researcher had at his disposal. Still, although the explanation of identity escapes us elusively, we may use another approach to test somewhat faster how language and thoughts intertwine, for instance, in terms of Serbian identity. We may try to reach some conclusions by playing an association game with our ‘statistic body’, we may assess how mass media and social platforms shape identity, we may consult previous statistic results and associative dictionaries.2 The results we get after these attempts will be again partial, but colourful and insightful at the same time. Other reflections of the nation’s identity may be the observations of the educated, distinguished and eloquent representatives within a nation who know and understand their contemporaries and circumstances to a great extent. The most visionary viewpoint on Serbian identity that we may encounter was pronounced 790 years ago and reflects almost universally how the geostrategic position of Serbia and the influence of other nations interweave:  “The East considered us the West, the West considered us the East. Some of us misunderstood our place in this conflict and shouted, ‘We do not belong to either of the sides’, and others that we belonged exclusively to one of the sides! And I tell you, Irinej, our destiny is to be the East on the West and the West on the East!’’ (Saint Sava to Irinej, 1221)3 If you ask foreigners in an informal conversation what concepts they associate with Serbia, their answers will usually reveal a lack of specific information or be related to the political situation of the region. The third option is that certain sights or prominent people 1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_identity 2 Predrag Piper, Rajna Dragićević and Marija Stefanović are the authors of The Associative Dictionary of the Serbian Language (Asocijativni rečnik srpskoga jezika), published by Beogradska knjiga in 2005. The headwords in the dictionary were compiled on the basis of students’ answers i.e. what was the first association they had on the assigned set of words and concepts in a given questionnaire 3 Taken from the book That’s just us, Serbs- SWOT analysis of all Serbian strengths and weaknesses (Takvi smo mi Srbi- SWOT srpski ili sve srpske snage i slabosti) by Slobodan Ivošević, Novi Sad, 2005
  4. 4. will pop up in the foreigners’ mind. One of the reasons why such answers are expected is the fact that Serbia is rarely a part of popular or everyday culture of foreign people in comparison to the Anglophone culture, for example. Therefore, it is not until foreigners are exposed to a content or message from the culture different than their own that they can relate this newly encountered culture to their experience. And this is how arts, languages, tourism, entertainment, relationships, scientific and economic collaborations, and other aspects of culture have their say in alleviating cultural prejudice or boosting stereotypes (both the positive and negative ones). In addition to this, one of the most successful Serbian brands which triggers positive associations from Adelaide to Ottawa is certainly EXIT festival, annually held in Novi Sad for more than a decade. Not only does EXIT festival contribute to creating a friendly, youthful image of Serbia, but it also went through several identity phases while its initiators developed it as a brand and the circumstances in Serbia changed. EXIT is especially positively portrayed in the UK media and the British audience finds EXIT to be of great quality. EXIT as a powerful epitome of Serbia exemplifies how a carefully dreamt vision surpasses itself and evolves into an internationally recognised symbol of the young generations’ values and lifestyle. Not only in Serbia, but world-wide, as well. Phases of EXIT’s Identity If we analyze EXIT’s development in the format of a case study, we distinguish four EXIT phases up to this time:4  1) the 100-day EXIT as an instrument against a political regime  2) Exit’s development and survival in the society and on the market (2000-2005)  3) EXIT’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), when social and environmental issues go hand in hand with entertainment (2005- onwards)  4) 10 years of EXIT announce that in the interactive future EXIT communicates with the audience throughout the entire year via new media The initiators of EXIT summarised on one occasion how the policy they used for establishing EXIT’s reputation may be used in other situations, “Make yourself the sort of person you want people to think you are.”(Socrates)5 There is no simpler and more efficient tip for success. Only by implementing this kind of authenticity in actions both an individual and a brand become credible and can grow. 4 EXIT founders were guests on November 24, 2009 at the PR Week conference in Belgrade which was organised by the Society of Serbia for Public Relations and the PR agency Attache. Their compelling presentation inspired this paper on EXIT’s identity. http://www.attache-pr.com/pregled.php?vest=51 5 http://www.integro-inc.com/identity_quotes.htm
  5. 5. I EXIT Phase – The 100-day EXIT and First Comments The student movements are always a response on the political, economic and educational issues in the society. In the very same way EXIT commenced. The EXIT initiative gathered musicians, students and artists from Serbia who performed nearby the campus of the Faculty of Philosophy and Technical Sciences for 100 days. The initiators of EXIT were three socially active students who are now leaders in EXIT entertainment: Dušan Kovačević (President of the Student Union), Bojan Bošković , and Ivan Milivojev (from the Faculty of Technical Sciences) This EXIT festival was mostly aimed at the young people, the students who got the right to cast their votes and take responsibilities for their political decisions. The slogan accompanying EXIT in 2000 was EXIT out of ten years of madness. Performances that lasted 100 days ended just before Federal Presidential Elections in 2000. The following excerpt from TIMES ONLINE summarises how EXIT was described initially in domestic and foreign press and with which key notions EXIT was associated:  “THIS festival is held in the 17th-century Petrovaradin Fortress, high on the banks of the River Danube in Novi Sad, Serbia and Montenegro. Started in 2000 as a 100-day peaceful protest against Slobodan Milosevic, it attracts acts such as Underworld, Grandmaster Flash and Nitin Sawhney.” The name of Zero EXIT symbolised that once the current circumstances in the society ended and the regime of the 90s was replaced by the democratic one, the new era for Serbia will begin. The new era will start for EXIT, as well, but the strenuous reforms will require involvement of all parties. II EXIT Phase- From Ready for the Future to the State of EXIT The affairs in Serbia after 2000 may be described as the further dominance of political issues in the lives of people. The power of the previous regime was to be restructured and the lives of ordinary people were to become more sustainable, with more secure economic factors and more social benefits. The words of a congressman Martin L. Gross uttered on another occasion could still depict the situation in Serbia, “We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy.” 6  EXIT resisted politics immensely but was influenced by it on several occasions: 1) EXIT depended on local political authorities who provided support and dotted funding from Republic and/or City’s budget. Therefore, EXIT had to position itself as an event 6 http://www.quotegarden.com/philosophy.html
  6. 6. with huge potential, worth investing and supporting once the political climate changed. The campaign in 2002 was named Serbia, are you ready for the future? And the festival brought new hope and some international performers. 2) The assassination of Serbian democratic PM in 2003 caused the state of emergency which meant new despair in the society and new challenges for EXIT. In this situation EXIT team created the new campaign for the festival in order to promote it alongside with values of the young: ‘Let us create our state of EXIT’. EXIT managed to adapt to the affairs in 2003 and upgraded its identity with the imagined one- the state of Exit was created with the passport, the currency,7 EXIT values, supporters and performers, always reflecting that societal problems can be solved if people act in accordance with the final desirable state of the affairs. 3) Another instance in 2004 showed how EXIT’s identity was influenced by the politics. Organisers were arrested because of “supposed embezzlement several weeks before the event and released due to utterances of witnesses who confirmed the earlier statements of the organisation team.”8 I don’t Give my EXIT was the symbolic slogan used to promote the festival. 4) EXIT showed that it surpasses current politics in Serbia and that it is the beneficial event for the entire society, especially in terms of economy and tourism. When the new major of Novi Sad (Gojkovic) was elected in 2005 from the Nationalist party, EXIT fundings were not affected, even though EXIT’s identity was perceived as the internationalist (pro-Western) gathering. After inevitable obstacles in the beginning, EXIT was ready for new ventures. Certainly, the masterminds of EXIT got the most outstanding personal reward when Massive Attack performed at the main stage in 2004. The young people’s dream that was conceived by the Danube banks several years ago came true. “Within three years we could already see the shape of Exit and we knew it was going to be a big deal internationally. Yet, you’d still turn around and see these bridges torn to pieces. It was an amazing sight and contradiction.”9 (Bojan Boskovic interviewed by J.Skruff) A token, EXIT currency used for payment at Petrovaradin fortress III Phase- Corporate Social Responsibility of EXIT 7 Have a look at the image of EXIT currency 8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EXIT_(festival)#EXIT_04 9 Adapted from http://www.exitconnectuk.com/veterans.html
  7. 7. When EXIT’s identity and future were more secure, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was included more extensively into the concept of the festival and EXIT as a developing brand started to attract wider audience and variety of media from abroad. To understand the concept of CSR, we may turn to the explanation provided by Smart Kolektiv, the first organisation in Serbia that aims all its projects at making business in Serbia more socially responsible, “CSR is generally perceived as the balance a company achieves in terms of economic, ecological and social imperatives, thus meeting both its business objectives and expectations of its owners/ shareholders. It is often highlighted that CSR is the way how a company cooperates with its shareholders, employees, consumers, state administration, non-governmental and international organisations, and how a company treats other factors that are associated with its business. Although the law binds companies to transact lawfully and to meet a minimum of the expectations the society requires, CSR is a step further and means investing ‘a lot more’ into the sustainable development of the community’’10 Since 2005 EXIT started addressing more often socially relevant issues. Although it commenced initially in order to raise awareness about political and social affairs in Serbia, it was in this third phase, when its future was stabile that the social activities got wider acclaim and impact due to its confirmed positive reputation and involvement of diverse partners, such as non-profit organisations, international agencies and eminent media. Campaigns were launched on MTV annually and at the actual festival to tackle the topics of human trafficking, abuse, unemployment, European mobility, sustainable development and global warming. Free your mind stage was started with MTV Europe Foundation in 2005. For example, one of the activities- "NOT60EUROS!" campaign dealt with visa requirements for the Balkan countries. EXIT invited people from the entire EU to record the phrase "NOT60EUROS!" in their own language and send it to the organisers. In festival days, people were photographed in front of a large billboard with the words "GREETENGS FROM EUROPE" and a picture of the Eiffel tower. “The aim was to send these images as e-cards to the visitors together with the e- mail addresses of EU institutions, the Western Balkan Government and the media. This action emphasized that these people are the same as tourists in front of the real Eiffel tower, with the only difference that they are not allowed to travel there.”11 EXIT and MTV in a campaign for ending human trafficking Media coverage and remarkable awards 10 http://www.smartkolektiv.org/cms/item/csr/sr/O+CSR-u.html 11 http://eng.exitfest.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=553&Itemid=197
  8. 8. As EXIT’s impact on the European entertainment scene grew and the quality of the festival rapidly improved, international media joined in promoting campaigns and live broadcasting. These are examples of the rave reviews about EXIT, which tremendously contributed to spreading the positive image of EXIT:  MTV coverage has been present throughout years (shows about the festival, Serbia, Novi Sad) and it has been a partner in regional CSR campaigns  BBC sends TV crew and journalists regularly and on one occasion summarised EXIT’s essence, “The festival is a magnet for young European people”. In 2009 BBC described EXIT in an article called Serb freedom gig wows Europeans  In 2005 BBC Radio One broadcast the events live  Mojo, NME, Observer, Times are some of the papers with unanimously positive impressions about EXIT Moreover, since EXIT received several festival awards of the world calibre, audience also acclaimed the remarkable potential of EXIT festival that was branded throughout its audience, line-up and CSR. The award received from Guardian: The best world festival in 2006, the best place to visit in July, 2008 The award received from UK Festival Awards 2007 and Yourope (the European Association of the 40 largest festivals in Europe): The Best European Festival A Sample of Media Messages on EXIT
  9. 9. To analyse how international media represent EXIT we may take into account the articles and headlines that appeared on the Times’ official website so far (http://www.timesonline.co.uk). 25 articles were found as the search result of “EXIT festival” (whereas. Guardian.co.uk has 28 articles). Some of the headlines are: Serbia shines for the EXIT festival Hot ticket to a chilled weekend The 100 best summer holidays for 2010 – 71st EXIT, SECTION: EUROPE, BEYOND THE MED Top 10 Bond locations- From Russia with Love (Visit Bgd, Zg, NS) 10 weekend breaks with a difference  A typical view on EXIT, “Don’t confuse Belgrade and Serbia in general, with what it was ten years ago under Slobodan Milošević. It’s a vibrant city with a nod to both East and West, and some of the best nightlife in Europe. Visit Tito’s mausoleum and museum, St Sava’s cathedral, and the city’s fortress and royal palace. Head for Exit music festival in July in the smaller city of Novi Sad.” 12 Some Foggy Areas in EXIT Promotion However, as it happens with every brand, certain controversies surround EXIT and they should be pointed out here:  Last year the death of the EXIT-goer from Britain raised concerns about security issues at EXIT and reverberated negatively in the UK press  Bjork’s performance was cancelled supposedly due to her attitudes towards Kosovo’s unilateral independence  Some media did not cover EXIT a single time online so far (News of the World, Daily Mail) Still, EXIT has strong online community and the word of mouth PR. It has become Serbia's biggest cultural asset for promoting Serbian identity and normalising relations with the EU. How do Britons relate EXIT to their culture? 12 http://www.timesonline.co.uk
  10. 10. In previous parts of the paper we discussed how EXIT developed its identity in 3 phases and how the British media portrayed it as the unique festival in the region. Moreover, the audience should be considered an important factor in the entire event and we should try to establish the conclusions why EXIT appeals mostly to the UK audience when it comes to foreign visitors. It should be remembered from the first chapter that the community (in this case the British) may form preconceived attitudes because they are not well-informed about the culture to which they are going to be exposed (Serbian). Those attitudes may be based on some real experiences that other community members shared through any spoken or written media. Also, if the person that is getting prepared for emerging into the foreign culture knows something vaguely about this target culture, it is not until he gets additional reliable information that he can possess any knowledge and upgrade his supposed beliefs with facts about the target culture. In case of the UK audience, their official media and internet communities are informed more about EXIT than media from other EU countries, thus provoking additional interest for EXIT in the British festival- goers. Therefore, in the age of information technology, good news about EXIT spread in a rapid way and those Britons who adore visiting festivals world-wide are encouraged to visit Serbia and reassured that everything will be fine. Certain festival and life-style habits of the British audience should be pinpointed as reasons why they always look forward to visiting EXIT:  Britons are keen festival-goers and their culture promotes it (from Live Aid to Glastonbury)  Strive to be well-informed so as to enjoy time abroad and avoid nasty surprises  Fond of unique, sunny places somewhat different from their climate  Interested in the Balkan region and find the EXIT story to be a fascinating social phenomenon once they get familiar with it  They compare EXIT to the Reading Festival and Glastonbury  Adore both prominent line-up and diverse content (Glastonbury has even Theatre & Circus,The Green Fields and Dance Village) Britons made a forum (http://www.exitconnectuk.com/veterans.html) devoted particularly to this Serbian festival, which testifies how organised they are and how much EXIT appeals to them:13 Serbia- untouched by the consumerism encountered in Britain, but a bitch to get to (take the train Budapest-Novi Sad) Festival - pretty good arenas, you can always find one with a bit of space Accommodation isn't as cheap as it could be. Can’t blame the locals for setting high prices. A 4-person apartment costs 700 euros (£520), £130 each for 6 nights. EXIT CAMP- Cheap& close to action vs. noisy& hot FOOD- immensely affordable. No Indian restaurants in the whole of Serbia; the Chinese ones are different. Cultural differences- Be prepared for shocked looks of amusement as you lie down between the restaurant tables legless The 4th Identity Phase- EXIT & Audience Use Interactive Social Media 13 http://www.exitconnectuk.com/veterans.html
  11. 11. The final phase in shaping EXIT’s identity is based on communicating with audience primarily via Internet and social media. This phase is closely connected to the previous ones and especially with EXIT’s corporate social responsibility because EXIT can advocate important social causes and promote all activities easily via less expensive internet advertising. Below are some tools for internet communication: 1) The official EXIT website shows how an interactive medium should communicate with the young target audience and stimulate interest with affordable and excellent service the Internet sometimes can cater to us. It provides the lively content, exclusive information, the historic background from previous festivals with live coverage, and also EXIT community which is created for blogging, connecting and sharing all relevant pieces of information. (http://www.exitfest.org/) Therefore, sections on the official site are: Festival , Music & TV, MyEXIT 2) Naturally, EXIT is present on standard social networks. It uses that potential fully because the young people love online arena where they are surrounded by their friends and acquaintances and have their share in the entertainment. Exit Facebook,14 MySpace, Twitter, EXIT YouTube, EXIT Google Earth stand for widely used social networks. In a nutshell, here are some of the reasons why EXIT shifted PR and advertising to Social Media:  Inexpensive in comparison to costs of TV commercials  Global audience can be easily reached  Audience in Serbia and world-wide gets informed online about music  Audience feels to a lesser extent that somebody sells them the favour as in the classic ad; they choose to see and listen to the content on the internet  Social media offer a vibrant, interactive share in entertainment for diverse people To conclude, EXIT was, is and will be the entertainment and social activism aimed at all enthusiastic people within the scope of Serbian and international identity. This festival will celebrate the tenth birthday this year. Recall EXIT’s contagious success when you think how brands position themselves and develop their reputation. Think about its path and what we can learn about our personal and professional growth or our choices. And just imagine how EXIT will look like in the next ten years. Because the vision once conceived by the Danube riverbanks, started with a single step. And now, as it happens with other experiences in life, it is a thousand-mile road. A thousand-mile road that only those involved can make entertaining, beneficial and inspirational.15 14 http://www.facebook.com/exit.festival?ref=ts#!/exit.festival?v=wall&ref=ts 15 The sentences aim at the Chinese quote, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” http://www.tedxsingapore.sg/idea-quotes.php
  12. 12. Presentation questions:  How did political situation influence EXIT entertainment?  Explain how EXIT advocated CSR as the (inter)national brand  How does EXIT relate to British culture (media& audience)?  Why does EXIT communicate via social media predominantly nowadays?  Which phase of EXIT’s identity did you find most inspiring/ intriguing and why?
  13. 13. Bibliography and Additional Material In this paper diverse internet resources were used- from the official EXIT website to the forums of UK communities. The talk of the EXIT founders at the PR Week conference in Belgrade inspired this research about Serbian and EXIT identity (More about the event may be found at: http://www.attache-pr.com/pregled.php?vest=51). PR week conference is organised by the Society of Serbia for Public Relations and the PR agency Attache. Other resources used for researching: EXIT’s official website in English: http://eng.exitfest.org/ http://eng.exitfest.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=553&Itemid=197 EXIT on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EXIT_(festival)#EXIT_04 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_identity Predrag Piper, Rajna Dragićević and Marija Stefanović are the authors of Tthe Associative Dictionary of the Serbian Language (Asocijativni rečnik srpskoga jezika), Beogradska knjiga, 2005. This dictionary is mentioned as a reminder how we can make conclusions about the mentality and affairs in society on the basis of linguistic responses. Excellent quotes are compiled in That’s just us, Serbs- SWOT analysis of all Serbian strengths and weaknesses (Takvi smo mi Srbi- SWOT srpski ili sve srpske snage i slabosti) by Slobodan Ivošević, Novi Sad, 2005 The websites used for quotes are: http://www.integro-inc.com/identity_quotes.htm, http://www.quotegarden.com/philosophy.html, http://www.tedxsingapore.sg/idea- quotes.php EXIT presentation on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exit.festival? ref=ts#!/exit.festival?v=wall&ref=ts Articles from the Times and the Sunday Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk A forum of the EXIT fans from the UK: http://www.exitconnectuk.com/veterans.html

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