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Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Apr 17

The Importance Of The Social Impacts Of Events

Events are powerful platforms and when planned well, they can have lasting positive impacts. I’ve spoken before about the economic impacts of events, and of course, well-managed, ticketed events always have the capacity to be profitable. However, events have the power to do so much more than to generate profits. Often, events are planned and produced with the sole objective of delivering social impacts for the local area in which they are held.

Think about your own area. Can you think of any free events that have taken place there? Think about why they may have been organised.

First of all, impacts are the lasting effects of an event, those that continue to exist after the event has taken place. Impacts can take many forms, including, but not limited to, economic impacts, environmental impacts, political impacts and social impacts. Impacts can also be positive or negative.

It is important for event managers to have a thorough understanding of impacts, so that they can plan their events to have impacts that are positive as opposed to negative. 

So, social impacts. Tell me more.

If an event had positive social impacts, generally it means that due to the event, residents of the society hosting the event or attendees at the event benefit socially from the event.

There is research that suggests that festivals can deliver a great number of positive social impacts, including the following:

  • The developing communication and social networks within a community (Fernandes, 2013)
  • The improvement of social cohesion within the society (Arcodia & Whitford, 2007)
  • The development of existing resources within a community (Arcodia & Whitford, 2007)

Our Team loves festivals, and we’ve worked on some great ones, including Fiestaval, Irish Maritime Festival, Dublin Pride Festival, to name a few. We are pretty sure all three had positive social impacts on the area in which they were held. 

The Gathering 2013

Hands up if you remember The Gathering.

The Gathering was tourism-led initiative to attract Irish diaspora to Ireland in 2013. As part of the initiative, almost 5,000 local gatherings and events were organized across the island of Ireland. The objective of The Gathering was to encourage Irish people living all over the world to make a return visit to their native island, and to enhance general tourists experiences at the same time.

The Gathering is a key example of an umbrella event that had significant positive social impacts.

For example, Mottiar, Quinn & Ryan (2014) found that in Co. Westmeath and in Co. Kerry, The Gathering had the following positive social impacts on residents of towns and villages:

  • Enhanced community spirit
  • Built networks within the communities and outside of the community
  • Improved the skills of the residents of the community
  • Fostered a sense of place and a sense of pride among residents
  • Facilitated the residents of the area in creating a vision for their locality that they didn’t have before
  • United families

Overall, it was found that 47% of respondents reported that they believed The Gathering would have a positive impact their societies in the long-run (Mottiar, Quinn & Ryan, 2014).

An illustrative case such like this shows the amazing benefits that events can have for members of a given community.

Event managers, take note!

Some events are held with the objective of making money, and that’s acceptable. We have an economy to contribute to, after all.  As event managers, we want to create a memorable and impactful experience for our attendees and meet our objectives.

However, keeping all stakeholders happy, from attendees to residents in the local area, is the key to really making a success of your event.

As event managers, we not only want to produce great events, but we want to show the world how powerful they can be!

Practice what you preach and plan your event so that it reaches its potential. Plan your event so that it delivers as many positive social impacts as it can, and watch closely as society gradually becomes a happier place!

Celimphilo Dlamini
February 4, 2022, 07:07 AM

May you share information on events effects on journalism

Sinead O'Mahony
April 15, 2017, 10:27 AM

Thanks Darragh, it's great to hear that you've seem this first hand. Events held in any community will have positive impacts if managed well. However, in rural Ireland especially, events can be transformative for people and places and are in the early stages of being recognised as such.

Darragh Gannon
April 13, 2017, 10:19 PM

Excellent article and so very true particularly in the case of small communities. I have seen first hand the combining of the skills and resources of the entire community in holding a successful event. It definitely increases the pride of residents in their area and is the bedrock for the continuance of volunteer groups in that community.

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