Local Arts Agencies as Destination Management Organizations

Mark A. Hager and HeeKyung Sung, both of Arizona State University, published “Local Arts Agencies as Destination Management Organizations” on December 23rd, 2011 in the Journal of Travel Research. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here. Professor Hager kindly provided the following thoughts on the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Our primary target audiences are scholars, students, or practitioners who are interested in the fields of cultural tourism, art and cultural agency management, and local community development.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Local arts agencies, either intentionally or involuntarily, make efforts to attract visitors as a destination management organization especially in the cultural tourism field. However, this role has been ignored in both the tourism and the community arts literatures. Therefore, we investigate how arts agencies at the local level engage in cultural tourism and contribute to the ecology of destination management.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Over 60% of local arts agencies in the United States are working on or involved in a partnership in the promotion of cultural tourism. Contrary to destination alliance formation conceptual models, local arts agencies show distinct features such as creation and delivery of tourist amenities, such as the production of community festivals.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

This article can be a useful guide to people who are interested in collaboration between local art and culture organization and tourism. Both the tourism and the arts management literature should recognize the critical role of arts agencies in the community ecology of destination management.  This paper serves as an overview of the point of intersection between two fields of research, community arts advocacy and tourism. Also, in practice, local arts agencies continue to expand their range of activities as destination management organization and participate more fully in cultural tourism development.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

Our stream of work is focused on community development, specializing in the scope, dimensions, administration, and operations of nonprofit organizations. Both nonprofit arts organization and destination management organizations are active stakeholders in community development.

How did your paper change during the review process?

We substantially revised the paper with reviewers’ criticisms, comments, and suggestions in mind.  The original paper had two distinct analyses (the first based on narratives, the second on a survey) focusing on somewhat different questions. Following reviewer suggestions, we cut the second analysis, concentrating only on the first.  Also, our revision introduced a theoretical lens, drawing on a framework written for the Journal of Travel Research by Wang and Xiang in 2007.  Their framework provided a jumping-off point for our efforts to describe the makings of the ecology of community–level destination management.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

Our understanding of our place in the destination management literature evolved as we wrote our paper and responded to our reviewers.  If we started from scratch, the theoretical framework that emerged late in our research process would more fully drive the work, such as in the questions we put to our respondents and the categories we used to code their responses.

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