Why Do We Need An Inquiry?
While cultural, sporting and community events have left lasting social legacies, this has not always been achieved. If events are to have positive impacts, it requires learning from past experiences and planning and investment from the start.
From the earliest times humans have gathered together to mark occasions of significance, perform or compete. Today, events such as the Olympics and Paralympics, Royal Jubilees and Remembrance Day, street parties, music festivals and county shows are occasions that bring people from all walks of life together to take part in moments of importance in national and community life. As well as the pleasure this brings, such moments can act as a catalyst that leads to social and economic changes, some of which may be realised years after event has ended. The economic legacies of events may include new sporting or cultural facilities, local regeneration, a larger visitor economy, new jobs and increased inward investment.
Events can also have social impacts. Coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games raised the profile of disabled people and changed public attitudes towards them. And event volunteering can be a route to more forms of regular volunteering. The long-term social impacts of events may also be less tangible, leading increased social connection and civil pride. Nearly a third of people (29%) still feel that the most important legacy of the London 2012 Games was that it brought us together as a country.
While cultural, sporting, civic and community events can leave lasting positive impacts, such legacies have not always been achieved. Most sporting, cultural and many community events receive significant public funding: many would argue that it is incumbent on those organise these events to make sure that have impacts on individuals and wider society.
Making sure that events have positive, lasting impacts is particularly important at this moment in time. As well as the thousands of regular events, the summer of 2022 will see us celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The following summer sees the 75th anniversaries of the NHS and the arrival of the Empire Windrush. The same period of time will see the UK and Ireland bidding to host Euro 2028. It because we want to influence the planning and running of these events that Spirit of 2012 has decided to hold an Inquiry about the social and economic impact of events.
The events of 2022 and 2023 will involve hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Without coordinated action however, these events may not leave a lasting volunteering legacy. This is our rationale for our focus on volunteering in this first report of the Inquiry.
The Inquiry will examine how events can help build happy, thriving and connected communities. It will:
- Gather evidence to enable a better understanding of the impact of events. Specifically, the Inquiry will look at how events can act as a catalyst to help increase:
- social, emotional and physical wellbeing
- financial wellbeing and sustainable local economies
- social connections between people of different backgrounds and between individuals and institutions.
- Develop workable ideas and recommendations to maximise the positive impacts that events can bring to individuals, communities and wider society.
Inform and influence policymakers as well as those involved in the planning and deliver of future events.