The cultural impact of events is often determined by what legacy strategies are in place. Mike Fletcher looks at legacy planning following the launch of a VisitBritain toolkit.
Legacy is an accelerator of culture. While events – especially business conferences and major sporting spectacles – are an excellent catalyst for legacy.
Take this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Britain for example. As part of its legacy drivers, Birmingham 2022 featured more Paralympic sport than ever before. It was the most sustainable Commonwealth Games to date, and it saw more medals awarded to women than men, which is a first for a major multi-sport event.
Throughout its history, the city of Birmingham has embraced generations of Commonwealth communities, resulting in the enriched multicultural destination that it is today.
The Closing Ceremony of the Games paid tribute to both a formidable sporting legacy of diversity and inclusion, plus the region’s unique musical heritage, epitomised by the performance of Birmingham’s own Black Sabbath frontman, Ozzy Osbourne.
Extending the impact of events
To grow and maintain its regional impact, the charity ‘United by 2022’ will now carry on projects influenced by the Games. This means more opportunities for young people, through the creation of accessible playgrounds or catch-up swimming lessons. Plus, more community-based projects funded by a grants programme that will open for applications this autumn.
Moreover, the state-of-the-art facilities at the Alexander Stadium and Sandwell Aquatics Centre will open for community use next year as part of a £38 million investment into a ‘Physical Activity and Wellbeing’ legacy; 1,400 homes are due in the first phase of the Perry Barr Regeneration Scheme; and tens of thousands of job and volunteering opportunities will continue to be created.
Hence, Birmingham 2022 was so much more than 11 days of sport and is sure to leave a lasting cultural legacy because it was planned for from the outset.
The Legacy and Impact Toolkit
In September, VisitBritain launched a ‘Legacy and Impact Toolkit’, in partnership with #Meet4Impact in a bid to inspire other destinations to drive cultural impact from hosting major business events and exhibitions.
The 45-page document ascertains that “international associations, global businesses and trade show organisers are working in partnership with destinations and venues to include legacy within RFPs, recognising the importance of incorporating longer-term positive impact objectives.”
The toolkit identifies four main steps to help destinations work collaboratively to create impactful change from staging events. They are ‘Define’, ‘Manage’, ‘Measure’ and ‘Maximise’.
The ‘Define’ step is the creation stage. It recommends identifying how an event or congress could fill a gap or need in the community, before turning these intentions into actionable objectives and intended outcomes.
In the case of a congress, there could be a need or gap identified within the community, such as a non-existent service or product, which would help community members.
Planned activities around the congress could facilitate discussions and become the conduit for the creation of the new service or product for community members. This will provide meaningful outcomes for the community and over time, demonstrate cultural change.
When evaluating objectives and outcomes for a legacy project, VisitBritain advises aligning them with the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs).
The ‘Manage’ stage includes identifying and mapping stakeholders; how to engage each group of stakeholders; reviewing existing events and activities to determine additional opportunities; development of the project timeline; allocating responsibilities to stakeholders; risk assessment; and the development of an event legacy communications plan.
The ‘Measure’ step then advises on identifying indicators and data that can combine to form a plan for measurement, ensuring that the intended impact or change can be evidenced.
“This evidence will help to inform future decision making and demonstrate the positive effects of events and congresses on the destination, outside the traditional economic gains,” the toolkit says.
The ‘Maximise’ step is the final stage of the impact journey. This stage considers how to report on the impact that has been created through the ‘Define’, ‘Manage’, and ‘Measure’ steps and considers how to communicate the story and utilise the information for future destination development.
The toolkit says:
“At the conclusion of a legacy project, it will be important to develop case studies as examples of what can be achieved within the destination. These can be used for future congress or event bids as they can demonstrate the success of a legacy project to prospective clients.”
The idea of planning for cultural, societal, environmental and economic impact by dedicating resources to legacy, beyond those committed to the delivery of an event, is now a fundamental part of major event design.
In fact, the potential for planned legacy shows the true value of a raft of major events. It has become a key motivator for host cities everywhere to throw their hats into the ring whenever the opportunity to stage something that will reap positive future benefit arises. Just look at Liverpool and Glasgow vying to host next year’s Eurovision for instance.
To access VisitBritain Business Events’ Legacy and Impact Toolkit click here. To understand IBTM World’s positive impact on its host city of Barcelona, visit the show from 29 November to 1 December at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via.
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