As part of Kettle’s participation in the Tandem programme, I was again in the Ukraine in March, travelling to Liviv, Kyiv and Opishnya. It was clear that preparations were underway for Euro 2012. Some of these preparations I was very grateful for – there are now some metro signs in the Latin script (rather than Cyrillic) so I was getting lost with less regularity!
Overall though, it made me think of the recognition that sport garners in terms of the positive impact that these events and sports fans have on the economy. Preparations for the London Olympics have been promoted to Londoners as an opportunity for developing East London, alongside a boost to the economy. In the Ukraine the Euro 2012 investment in a new stadium and infrastructure development has been promoted with the same zeal. Why then is so little recognition for the economic impact for music/art/film festivals and events?
Perhaps in part this has been down to the fact that measuring and evidencing these events can be harder than for sports, because of widespread locations and the fact that many events are unticketed. Or maybe it is down to the lack of desire to build up data? It has only been relatively recently that economic impact assessments have been carried out for major festivals such as Glastonbury. A 2007 Economic Impact report (1) showed that the festival generated £73 million from 177,500 people and a long weekend in June. However, without building up an overall evidence base there is little chance of making credible arguments for the role of the arts in economic development. Audiences London has recently produced resources to support Audience Research at festivals and outdoor events, a valuable new tool.
While in Kyiv I gave a seminar to 70 museums on the principles of audience development. It was really exciting to hear about the variety of methods that museums were using to attract audiences. At the same time it was clear how difficult it was to operate without easily accessible information about audience data, and relevant templates and toolkits that could be experimented with – without each organisation having to reinvent the wheel. There will always be cultural differences, but arts organisations globally share enough common threads to make the sharing of experiences and case studies very valuable indeed.
(1) The 2007 report was commissioned by Mendip District Council and Glastonbury Festival and carried out by Baker Associates