This report provides an independent analysis of responses to the National Events Strategy Consultation. Drawing on the formal responses submitted by individuals and organisations with an interest in the National Events Strategy, along with discussions at the regional engagement workshops and the sector workshop, it presents the analysis of the extent of agreement with the ambition outlined in the strategy, views on its strategic priorities and opinions on the enablers and barriers facing the sector. Our analysis finds strong support for the proposed ambition outlined in the strategy, both from organisations and individuals responding to the survey. Responses recognise the importance of the ambition in driving stronger economic and social benefits for Scotland.
The responses suggest that boosting the economy and the events sector contributing to enhancing well-being and community engagement are considered by respondents to be the most important strategic priorities. The responses also show that the majority of those responding to the survey rated all five priorities as either very important or important. The most suggested other strategic priorities that survey respondents felt should be included in the refreshed strategy centred around promoting inward investment and including a greater focus on equalities, diversity and inclusion.
Those responding to the consultation emphasised the importance of events creating a welcoming, inspiring, enjoyable atmosphere, of being accessible and inclusive and the event experience being high quality. These were identified as key ingredients of creating an excellent event experience.
Views on the events sector in Scotland vary. There was greatest agreement from survey respondents that events are welcoming and least agreement that they are affordable. The main reasons provided by survey respondents for not attending the events they would like were their affordability, accessibility and transport issues (or a perception of these factors). The issue of transport connectivity was raised regularly across the survey responses and in workshop sessions.
Consultation responses reveal mixed views on the extent to which event organisers involve communities in the planning of events they hold or communicate how the event taking place with affect them, although there is consensus that effective engagement and involvement of communities is not just desirable but essential to achieve positive benefits.
The majority of survey respondents agreed that the diversity of events is very important, in particular the spread of location. This issue was raised across responses to several of the consultation questions. The main barrier to achieving greater diversity of events across Scotland highlighted by survey respondents was inadequate infrastructure and challenges associated with accessing sufficient funding to resource a diverse range of events.
Although a majority of people responding to the survey think that the event sector is an attractive place to work, around one in six disagree. The events sector is viewed positively as being engaging and collaborative as well as supporting the development of transferable skills and enabling flexibility. However, responses to the consultation also highlight issues relating to a lack of job security, low pay, long hours and a reliance on volunteers. Key changes needed in relation to Fair Work practices included better regulation of the sector in terms of working hours, pay and conditions. The majority of those responding to the survey also did not think that there are sufficient opportunities to learn about what it is like to work in the sector, to gain the skills and experiences needed to work in the sector and to further a career in the sector.
A range of views were expressed in relation to the steps needed to enable events to become more environmentally sustainable. The most prevalent themes included more information and guidance around environmental sustainability being made available to event organisers, most notably to encourage or aid those attending events to make changes to limit any environmental impacts from their attendance or participation. Several respondents suggested that a standardised monitoring framework could be developed and shared with organisations hosting events in Scotland. The next most prevalent suggestions were for event organisers to ensure that their supply chains were locally sourced, that materials used are recyclable and renewable energy sources used where possible.
With regards to supporting the events sector to become more financially sustainable, the most prevalent responses related to securing sponsorship or working towards diversifying event organisers revenue streams. Some respondents emphasised the importance of core public funding in supporting events and the risks associated with overreliance on ticket sales. The importance of public sector support was highlighted in workshop sessions with participants emphasising a need for public sector financial support to implement sustainable measures and achieve long-term goals.
What is evident from the body of responses on measuring the importance of events is different levels of technical knowledge, experience and confidence in measuring different aspects of events. Respondents commonly highlighted the lack of standardisation and cited a desire for better sharing of measurement approaches and practices.
Common themes expressed in responses on the specific aims that should be prioritised for mega events included ensuring that they provide clear benefits for local communities, such as using local suppliers and enabling local participation, as well as skills development opportunities for those that work or volunteer in the events sector. These two areas stand out most prominently in the survey responses with a common reference to ensuring a legacy is achieved. Notably several contributors to the workshop sessions questioned the overarching justification for or assumptions around the value provided by mega events.
Less than half of survey respondents suggested any other changes to the current strategy. No clear themes or prevalent views could be identified in these responses, but rather a desire for the strategy to consider the content of Brexit, the post-pandemic recovery and the current ‘cost of living’ crisis. Consultation responses also requested that the strategy should differentiate between events of different sizes and types and enable more collaboration between event organisers and funders.
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