The spring and summer of 2023 has seen a bumper programme of national events, including the Coronation, Eurovision and Windrush 75. Last year we saw the Platinum Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games and the Women’s Euros. Each event has made an impact, but how do they fit together and what’s the overarching strategy for events in the UK?

To find out, Spirit of 2012 has today awarded a contract to a team of researchers from Warwick Business School (WBS) led by Professor Jonothan Neelands to explore the ways that events relate to each other and interconnect – to be more than the sum of their parts in delivering social impact.

The success of major cultural and sporting events depends on the collective work of multiple stakeholders working towards a shared ambition. This interdependent ecosystem Includes event organisers, funders, DCMS, communities, local government, volunteers and others.

Orchestrating events: an ecosystem approach seeks to map out and better understand how the major events ecosystem functions and how it might be improved through orchestrated collaboration, longitudinal and consistent data capture and open access to stakeholder data between stakeholders and across events. The project will consult on a UK wide set of impacts and outcomes that will deliver progression towards a common longer-term UK ambition for the legacy of major events.

In January, Spirit published five recommendations from an independent Inquiry into the Power of Events, calling on event rights holders and organisers, policymakers and funders to: develop a clear plan for what next; provide demarcated funding, accountability and governance for the long-term impact; pay greater attention to who is left out; design and curate events with a broad range of stakeholders to bridge divides, and, where events rely on volunteers, to have a long-term strategy to boost community volunteering.

The purpose of the research, which will cost £39,775, will be to develop a framework for understanding how events can be better designed, the role events play in UK life and how they might be evaluated as a collective.

Ruth Hollis, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012, said:

In the UK we enjoy a reputation for excellence in hosting events, but strategic planning for what’s next is often side-lined. Consequently, people and places are missing out on the ripple effect – significant long-term benefits that can come with hosting events both large and small.

“This year we’ve already seen a cluster of events delivered and funded separately. A co-ordinated approach, with a UK-wide ambition, is a critical step in unleashing the real power of events” she added.

Professor Jonothan Neelands, WBS, said:

“WBS is excited to be working with Spirit of 2012 to make the most of the UK’s major cultural and sporting events through closer collaboration, longitudinal learning and a focus on legacy for a shared UK ambition for major events.”


The research team’s final report will be published in February 2023.


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