Influencing the national debate on events
A team of researchers from the UK Centre for Events Management (UKCEM) has had a submission published by the UK Parliament as part of its inquiry into major cultural and sporting events. The team was comprised of Bernadette Albert, Rev. Ruth Dowson, Dr Thomas Fletcher, Dr Ian Lamond, Dr Neil Ormerod.
The cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for scrutiny of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The DCMS Select Committee issued an invitation in April 2021 to submit evidence to an inquiry into the role of major cultural and sporting events in celebrating the UK’s national identity. This inquiry was prompted by plans for several international events in 2022 and future bids, including Festival UK 2022, the commencement of the FIFA World Cup 2030 bidding process, and the Commonwealth Games.
The UKCEM submission informed discussion by drawing attention to how social impacts can be maximised through large-scale events, and how the richness of diversity can be celebrated through events by the structured and careful management of ‘cultural risks’. The evidence provided by UKCEM drew on ongoing longitudinal social impact research of large-scale sports events undertaken by Lucy McCombes, Dr Neil Ormerod, Dr Thomas Fletcher, Professor Jim McKenna (School of Sport) and Jen Rawson (School of Sport) in partnership with Doncaster Council and Sport England. This work trialled a novel approach to maximising positive event impacts. To benefit fully from an event - whether that be a major sporting event or local community event – the team advocate the need to think about what the event does rather than solely what the event is. They call this event decentring. Event decentring builds social impact into event planning right from the start, ensuring more effective social impact. This research is relevant because it focuses on how events can improve personal wellbeing, civic pride, community cohesion and levels of physical activity.
The second piece of research that informed the UKCEM submission is currently being undertaken by Bernadette Albert and Rev. Ruth Dowson. They argue for the development of what they call a Cultural Risk Assessment that considers cultural, historical and religious values within the event planning process. Their model is to support diversity, equality, equity and inclusion in event spaces, both physical and virtual, providing tangible actions to develop policies and procedures.
Commenting on the submission, Dean Rhodri Thomas stated: ‘I was delighted to see our evidence listed in official documentation. My colleagues in UKCEM undertake rigorous inter-disciplinary research on issues of contemporary concern and it is satisfying to see them gaining influence in this way’.
Further details of their submission and those made by others can be found in the evidence report: Major cultural and sporting events - Written evidence - Committees - UK Parliament.
With over 25 years' experience in events delivery, in public and private sectors, Rev. Ruth Dowson has taught at UKCEM since 2007. Her research is on the eventisation of faith. Ruth is a priest in the Church of England.