Yesterday, under ominous northern skies, the small town of Crook in Country Durham exploded into a riot of colour, music, costume and smiles to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles.

The event was a culmination of weeks of intense work by the team at Jack Drum and its community of artists, alongside the children and older people who have taken part in the workshops since February. From the spectacular giant green king puppet, to the beautiful paper horses and dogs in crowns (yes, you read that right), the costumes were stunning. Young people and their parents held signs bearing conservation messages: ‘Save Our Bees’, ‘Plant More Trees’ – amplifying the event’s environmental theme which is based on King Charles’ longstanding commitment to the issue.


During our Inquiry into the Power of Events people asked us why we were studying community events like the Year of the King alongside multimillion pound events like the Commonwealth Games. Others, hearing the powerful evidence from organisations like the Local Trust about the impact of small events, wondered if there was too much focus on the mega event at the expense of the local. The Inquiry took a less binary view, with Spirit Board Member Bill Morris arguing that the greatest power of all is in big national events – like the Coronation − which can be celebrated locally. Getting the recipe between the two right is where the magic happens.

Outdoor events have a particular role to play in bringing communities together – despite the British weather! Whilst many of the people who lined Hope Street clutching umbrellas yesterday will have been friends and family of the performers, or families looking for a bank holiday activity, there were also plenty of curious passers-by who got swept up in the drumming and spectacle of colour, and ended up joining in.

A parade also brings that mix of surprise and ritual we identified in our Inquiry report. Event organisers are keen to surprise and delight audiences – and there was plenty of both beauty and humour in the costumes on display yesterday. While the pageantry around rituals such as royal events, opening ceremonies and remembrance can be refreshed and modernised, their essential ingredients remain the same – people value the familiar, know what to expect and the place of these events in their lives. These traditions are an important part of their emotional impact.


In addition to the meticulous planning and preparation events like Jack Drum’s parade can also be springboards to longer-lasting community connections – a topic we’ve covered in depth in our Moment to Movement research. For Jack Drum, the workshops with legacy groups will continue throughout the year, giving groups from different generations continued opportunities to be creative together ahead of an exhibition of their work this November. This longer-term focus is important − each individual interaction; each moment of connection helps develop ongoing relationships, and away from the dazzle (and drizzle) of the day, this is where some of the deepest impact happens.

Read more about Year of the King and the Moments to Connect fund

Download the final report from the Inquiry into the Power of Events

Photos: Scenicview Gallery