Festivals, Events and COVID-19: Navigating a Global Pandemic

May 27th 2020, 13:15- 16:15

Event Registration: Eventbrite 


We are in the midst of a global pandemic unlike anything witnessed in our lifetimes. From March 2020, across the world large scale festivals and events were cancelled or postponed and there are fears that the restrictive social distancing measures in place to contain the virus will endure well into summer and autumn 2020, at least. Local, national and international cultural, sporting and business events have been affected, from Merchant City Festival in Glasgow, the Grand National (global audience of 500 million people) to Coachella Music Festival in Nevada, and even the world’s largest mega event, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Some events were postponed until later in the year (e.g. Glastonbury, and the London Marathon) in the hope that some mass gatherings will be permitted as the world slowly re-opens for business. However, even these plans are likely to involve adaptations including being hosted behind closed doors or with restricted audience numbers. Large gatherings, community events, people’s sense of place, space, identity and culture have all come to a halt with no sense of returning to normal any time soon.

Prior to the COVID-19 shock, the global festivals and events sector was worth $1,100 billion in 2018 and is predicted to reach $2,330 by 2026 (Allied Market Research, 2019). In the UK alone it is worth over £42 billion, supporting over half a million FTEs (Pulse Event Report, 2018).Corporate and business events were anticipated to show the most significant growth. However, with the current COVID-19 restrictions in place, the ability to stage, host and attend festivals and events has been severely curtailed. The festivals and events sector will be one of the last to re-open so there is a need to think carefully about the impact of this global pandemic on the sector, its main stakeholders, audiences and the future. The Centre for Culture, Sport and Events (CCSE), University of the West of Scotland, invites you to participate in this virtual conference, with contributions from academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK, Europe and North America to talk about how we navigate a future for the festivals and events sector.


This conference is to be broadcast on social media to watch it please click the links below:

1. YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/c/UWSSBCIStories
2. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UWSBusinessStories
3. Twitter: https://twitter.com/UWSSBCIBusiness
4. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/uwsbusent

(The event will stream on each of these channels from 1pm on 27th May. Attendees do not require access codes or additional links/logins).

13:00 Start of broadcast

13:15 Introduction and scene setting
Professor Gayle McPherson, Director CCSE
Professor David McGillivray, Deputy Director, CCSE and Project Lead, FESTSPACE

13:25 Cultural festivals: Performing at a Distance

In this panel session, we will hear from academics and policy makers from the UK and Europe on the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector with specific focus on cultural festivals and events. In this session we will discuss two main questions:

● What are the effects, economically, socially and culturally, of COVID-19 on cultural festivals?
● What are the implications of COVID-19 for the future of cultural festivals?

Chair: Prof Gayle McPherson

Contributors: Marie Christie, VisitScotland; Dr Bernadette Quinn, Technological University,
Dublin, Louisa Mahon, Renfrewshire Council and Lyndsey Jackson, Deputy Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

14:20 Break

14:25 COVID-19 and the Future of Sport Events

In this panel session we will hear from academics, policy makers, and sport broadcasters on the implications for sport events; from regular events to mega sport events like the Olympic Games. Contributors from the UK, Europe and North America will discuss how the pandemic is affecting sport and sport events and the strategies that can be put in place to ensure there is a future for these events once restrictive social distancing measures are relaxed. In this session we will discuss two main questions:

● What are the effects, economically, socially and culturally, of COVID-19 on the landscape of small, major and mega sport events?
● What changes to the sport event landscape can we expect once the immediate effects of COVID-19 are overcome?

Chair: Professor David McGillivray
Contributors: Dr Laura Misener, Western University, David Grevemberg, CEO Commonwealth Games Federation and Professor Martin Müller, University of Lausanne

15:20 Break

15:25 Creative responses and new event formats: Adapting to a New Normal. In this panel session, we will discuss how communities, neighbourhoods, cultural organisations and festival and event organisers have responded creatively to COVID-19 lockdown measures and what these new or adapted practices might mean in the future. These practices include
street or balcony events, digitally mediated gatherings and other expressions of everyday creativity. In this session we will discuss two main questions:

● How have neighbourhoods and communities responded to the ‘absence’ of collective gatherings brought about by COVID-19 measures?
● Which new or adapted forms of festivity will be sustained once social distancing measures are relaxed and what might this mean for traditional models?

Chair: Dr Sandro Carnicelli
Contributors: Dr Alba Colombo, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Leonie Bell, Renfrewshire Council, Dr Andrew Smith, Westminster University, Dr Tim Gale, Bournemouth University

16:00 Conclusions
Professor Gayle McPherson, Director CCSE

Please Register to Attend here. We look forward to seeing you on 27th May.