Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy: final evaluation report April 2018

This evaluation report of the Commonwealth Games 2014 legacy summarises previous findings and sets out new findings since the last report in 2015.

Chapter 7: Culture

Evidence from previous major events

Evidence, mainly from the evaluation of the London 2012 Olympiad, indicates that there can be a large surge in short-term cultural engagement, reaching a broad geographic area. It is less clear whether this engages both those already with cultural interests as well as those not usually engaged, or if this translates into sustained cultural engagement.

It is plausible that widening the range of cultural opportunities helps engage those not interested in sport in major events. Previous major sporting events have seen equal or greater participation in the cultural events compared to the sporting events.

There is some evidence that the scale and reach of cultural programmes associated with major events can support development of the cultural and wider creative industries sector. One example is the development of new partnerships at strategic and project level, with the potential to sustain these beyond events.

Glasgow 2014

From the outset there was a clear commitment to the XX Commonwealth Games being both a sporting and cultural event. The Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme was unprecedented in scale with national and local programming and events. It had a Scotland wide, year long, programme called Culture 2014 and a citywide Games time celebration called Festival 2014.

The key programme was the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. It was a national programme of new work by world-leading and emerging Scottish and international artists. The programme consisted of two strands: Culture 2014, a nationwide programme which ran throughout the year; and Festival 2014 a citywide programme which took place during Games time, from 19 July to 3 August 2014. It was intended to be a key part of the Games experience for spectators, visitors and residents, showcasing Scottish culture alongside creative work from the Commonwealth.

The broad aims of the cultural programmes were to create world class new works; strengthen the cultural sector; promote a contemporary image of Scotland and widen the audience for the Games to those uninterested in sport. Festival 2014 was also intended to contribute to the excitement and atmosphere in Glasgow during Games time, promoting the city as 'open for business'. The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme was delivered through a partnership between Creative Scotland and Glasgow Life; with National Lottery, Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council funding a total programme budget of £13.2 million

Key findings from Glasgow 2014

  • The evaluation of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme found it was unprecedented in scale compared to any previous cultural celebrations in Scotland. [72] The programme contained over 3,000 performances and 3,600 exhibition days and was delivered by over 10,000 artists and arts and culture professionals, supported by almost 4,000 volunteers.
  • The evaluation concludes this represents a step change in terms of Commonwealth Games cultural programming and the status of the culture elements within the overall Commonwealth Games event. From 2022, a cultural programme will be part of the formal criteria for judging bids by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
  • Attendance at cultural events and participation in cultural activities were high – the programme attracted an estimated 2.1 million attendances and 600,000 participants. Notable elements of the programme aimed at inspiring participation at scale included Get Scotland Dancing and Big Big Sing. Over 8 in 10 projects in the Programme reported that some or all of their activities were provided free of charge.
  • There is evidence from the aforementioned Games Time Visitor Survey that Festival 2014 contributed to broadening engagement experiences of those who did attend. One in six (14%) visitors reported they had experienced cultural activities and events that were previously unfamiliar. This increased to 23% among residents of Glasgow. and there is evidence from a range of sources of a high level of satisfaction and enjoyment among participants in Games related cultural events. Around nine in ten (92%) adults were culturally engaged in 2016, either by attending or visiting a cultural event or place or by participating in a cultural activity.
  • The evaluation of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme also found producer capacity in Scotland has been developed in the cultural sector, and the programme provided a showcase for predominantly Scottish art (in contrast to other high profile cultural programmes in Scotland like the Edinburgh International Festival).
  • The GoWell East study showed that overall adult engagement in cultural events decreased between 2012 and 2016 from 88% to 75%. When cinema attendance is excluded, 86% of adults engaged in at least one of the remaining activities in 2012 compared with 63% in 2016. The decline in cultural attendance among participants contrasts with a slight increase in cultural attendance in the most deprived areas across Scotland over a similar period (2012-2016). However, the rate of cultural attendance among adults in the study area in 2016 (63%) is similar to that recorded for adults in deprived areas in 2015 (62%) [73] .
  • A recent review of Glasgow's cultural sector [74] , found that the scale and growth in Glasgow's cultural sector over recent years has been strong, especially in 2014/15. The report notes that in addition to Glasgow's cultural offering continuing to serve audiences from all over Scotland, attendance by Glasgow residents is rising, with attendance and participation by Glasgow's residents, despite social challenges, at the Scotland average. In 2016/17, Glasgow had 149 days of festivals, including specialist off season events, drawing almost a million visits, out-performing comparable English cities in inbound leisure tourism.

Key lessons and developments

The momentum provided by the XX Commonwealth Games has been important for those working in the cultural sector in Scotland and in Glasgow. The networks and capacity built and the experience gained from 2014 allowed partners to fast-track the design of the cultural programme for the 2018 European Championships. Further, the existence of a well-developed delivery model for staffing, budgeting, curatorial and engagement frameworks have been invaluable.

A key lesson from Festival 2014 delivery was the potential to improve administrative and management capacity within Black and Minority Ethnic arts organisations to enhance their ability to submit fully compliant applications for external funding. Through the two-year 'Agent for Change' project, funded by Glasgow Life and Creative Scotland, a Senior Arts Manager has been recruited to proactively engage with and support BME communities and cultural organisations with a specific focus on building capacity within those organisations which submitted unsuccessful applications for Festival 2014.

Another area where it was felt improvements could have been made with Festival 2014 was the engagement and involvement of local communities in developing and determining the content of the cultural programme. As a result, participatory budgeting techniques have been used to allocate Festival 2018's 'Our Place Community Fund' for local, community-based cultural activity.

During XX Commonwealth Games, the Organising Committee had used George Square as the venue for its main merchandise outlet. Post Games, it was felt that, having observed visitors gravitating to the Square, not for the purpose of shopping but due to its status as the civic heart of the city, an opportunity for celebration, civic and cultural engagement had been missed. This lesson, along with the successful hosting of the widely attended and welcomed Homeless World Cup 2016 in George Square, has influenced the plans for Festival 2018, where the Square is will act as the main cultural venue and the key outdoor broadcast location.

The Glasgow 2014 Games-time Visitor Survey found that a large proportion of visitors to Festival 2014 events did not attend any of the Games ticketed and/or un-ticketed sports events. In an attempt to introduce Festival 2018's audiences to the event's sports offerings, a 'Go Active' space is being developed in Glasgow Green where audiences can view and sample the Championship sports.

The decision to integrate the pre-existing annual Merchant City Festival ( MCF) within the Festival 2014 programme has resulted in sustained improvement in audience numbers and the quality of the cultural offering. The approach was so successful that MCF 2018 has been scheduled to take place from the 9th-12th August 2018 in order that it can be part of Festival 2018 which will run from the 2nd to the 12th August 2018.


Back to top