9. Annex A: A Changing Context
9.1 The return of events
2022 was a significant summer for events in Scotland, following the significant restrictions in place from March 2020 through to spring 2021. Achievements included Dandelion's creative celebration of growing, music and community. The summer of golf in 2022 saw Scotland host five high profile events in consecutive weeks, headlined by the 150th Open at St Andrews. However, the event industry is still feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Culture and events were among the first sectors to close and last to reopen. A combination of the pandemic, Brexit and the energy crisis fuelled by Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, have sent prices spiralling. Rising costs are significantly hampering the ability of these sectors to recover following the pandemic, affecting supply chains, workforce and audience. Regrowth is therefore particularly important to the industry.
The industry is also having to respond to a number of recent changes and proposals around regulation in areas that affect them. These include new powers for local authorities to regulate Short Term Lets, new requirements to reduce environmental impact such as the Deposit Return Scheme, the requirement to pay the Real Living Wage in order to access public sector grants, and potential future restrictions on alcohol marketing.
9.2 Transition to Net Zero
Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. If global temperatures continue to rise at the same rate as they have been, the increase in heat will drive regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reduce snow cover and sea ice, intensify heavy rainfall, and change or destroy habitat ranges for plants and animals, changing our planet in ways that will affect us all significantly. There are signs that the cost of living crisis may be limiting consumer's ability to prioritise environmental sustainability.
There is an opportunity for the sector to be at the forefront of developments in this are, and scope to benefit from that investment in the longer term. An environmentally sustainable experience is an asset in making Scotland an attractive host of events and, with the adoption of sustainable lifestyles on the rise, attractive to customers. The Scottish Government has set climate change ambitions to become a net zero greenhouse gas emitting nation by 2045, with interim targets of 75% by 2030 and 90% by 2040, against 1990 baseline levels. It has also committed to doing this in a way that is just and fair for all people across Scotland. These are ambitious targets and require a collective effort from all corners of society to play their part, including governments, businesses, organisations, communities and households.
9.3 International engagement
Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, international tourism is reopening and presents an opportunity for the industry. There is also opportunity to engage with other nations again, including through links to an international culture strategy and the kind of 'sporting diplomacy' being considered by other UK nations. At the same time, Brexit presents fresh challenges for the industry, including around workforce and transportation of goods.
9.4 Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing
Positive mental wellbeing encourages better quality of life overall, healthier lifestyles, better physical health, improved recovery from illness, better social relationships, and higher educational attainment. We know that significant mental health inequalities exist in Scotland.
Early intervention and prevention are key priorities for the Scottish Government in taking forward our approach to mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is to support people to positively engage with their mental health at an early stage, promoting and supporting the conditions for good mental health and wellbeing at a population level.
Our mental health and wellbeing are influenced by many factors, such as our home life, our work, our physical environment and housing, our income, our relationships or our community. Events can contribute positively to individual and community wellbeing.
9.5 International competition
Themed Groups told us that Scotland can seem an expensive place to host events compared to some other countries due to the cost of employment practices. This higher cost does, however, come with an existing infrastructure for hosting, people who are ready and have the skills to do the work, and the experience to deliver within the timeframe.
Against the backdrop of continued impacts from Covid-19, public spending constraints and the cost of living crisis, Scottish Government and the wider public sector have had to make difficult choices to live within budgets. At a time when other countries are investing significant resource in events, the pressure of these challenges has had an effect on the public sector and the funds available for events in Scotland. Themed Groups were concerned that this could restrict how competitive Scotland is in attracting events, damaging its international reputation. It could mean less support for the development and delivery of future events in general, affecting the benefits that come from them. This meant that for those events looking to access public funds, a strategy that helps clearly evidence the benefits of events and their contribution is particularly important.
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