Guest blog: Economics of events

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Cornwall, writes Claire Eason-Bassett,  has a plethora of event activity from village fetes to national festivals, from international conferences to arts programmes, from promotional events to community celebrations, and from weddings to training and team-building events.

Claire Eason Bassett
Claire Eason Bassett

We, as residents and businesses, attend events of some kind almost weekly and nearly all of the county’s visitors attend an event during their stay. All of these events, over 1000 throughout the year (and the figure keeps rising), mean cash directly into our town centres and businesses.

Events have an inherent multiplier effect. For every pound spent on developing and delivering that event, there will be a further x pounds spent in our local economy. For example, City of Lights has a multiplier of 9, (Figure taken from Visit Cornwall research undertaken on the 2010 event), which means that for the £26,000 spent on the event, over £230,000 is spent in the Cornish economy. For a two hour event that’s a pretty impressive return on investment, and with an estimated attendance of 25,000, it’s the largest single night event in the county.

Yet, every year, City of Lights struggles to generate sufficient money to cover its costs and it is not alone. Events throughout the county struggle on, led by passionate volunteers, or for more corporate projects, by visionary businesses who take the risk, ride the rough with the smooth and make it happen somehow.

The culture of ‘free’ that has developed over the last 10 years courtesy of EU funding is destroying the financial viability of events as potential attendees bow out of buying tickets and businesses withdraw their sponsorship (or don’t even bother). Don’t get me wrong, the funding from the EU over the last 10 years or so is an incredible investment in our county and in our businesses but we are only just starting to see the impact on the whole economy of Cornwall in terms of cultural perspectives and expectations.

The events sector not only means cashflow within our economy but also provides employment and skill development opportunities. There are few who exclusively work in events but many many more who undertake events as part of a mixed function and even more who volunteer and support community events in their own time. It is an intense industry to work in but it can be highly rewarding too and, following the phenomenal success of the Olympics in 2012, British event managers are perceived as being the best in the business.

And so I urge you and all Cornish businesses to see the latent potential in our events economy and the vital role that you can play in ensuring it maximises the economic benefit of the investment of time and energy and risk.

If City of Lights (and all of those 1000 + events across the county) had more support, imagine how much further that multiplier could go! We need you to support and get involved with events as sponsors, as volunteers, as project leaders, as creatives, as participants, as delegates, as suppliers….in whatever way possible. Your investment will also have that multiplier effect on your finances, on morale, on skill development, on brand awareness and on community relations.

About the author:

Claire Eason-Bassett is the managing director of Mackerel Sky Events and Event Cornwall, looking after a range of events across the south west. She is also lecturer on the BA (Hons) Creative Event Management course at Falmouth University and is on the Education Committee for event trade body Eventia.

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