A few weeks ago, we hosted our annual CCSE symposium online, it was the second such event of a busy week but our excellent speaking line ups and engaging and thought provoking keynote and panels ensured a great afternoon. Chair of VisitScotland and ex-officio board member for VisitBritain, Lord Thurso, opened proceedings with a keynote address: Scotland’s Themed Years, How these Engage Scotland’s Creatives while Simultaneously Growing the Culture, Events & Tourism Offering. Setting out to make the case for tourism as a force for good, Lord Thurso spoke on the value and purpose of tourism, the proposition of responsible tourism and its place in the modern world as we attempt to become more sustainable; not only in terms of carbon but also, with regard to communities.

“Tourism is an economic endeavour [that] seeks to get the maximum economic benefit for the minimum environmental and social disruption”

 

Lord Thurso’s address was followed by an panel discussion on The Future of Tourism A Regenerative Approach to the Visitor Economy. Chaired by Dr Sandro Carnicelli (UWS), speakers Gordon Smith (VisitScotland), Sarah Cameron (SENScot) and Dr Nancy Duxbury (University of Coimbra, PT) explored their views on the role of local communities in developing post-COVID tourism, resisting the pull of the return to the old model and, relatedly, how institutional stakeholders might seek to ensure that the environmental impacts of tourism are minimised while the benefits for local communities are maximal.

“The story-telling that we have is so vital and if you want to see a real place … then you have to connect with communities, that’s the best way to do it”

 

The following panel, chaired by Dr Clare Edwards (Renfrewshire Council/ Future Paisley), discussed Socially Engaged Arts and Cultural Labour. Our speakers – Prof Eleanor Belfiore (University of Aberdeen), Prof Graham Jeffery (UWS) and Claire Webster-Saaremets (Skimstone Arts) – considered issues of labour conditions and duty of care in the creative sector working in socially engaged practice and, ways in which cultural organisations and the creative workforce can avoid precarious labour and work to build sustainable incomes in the sector.

“Short term funding, when you have funding that gives you four months to work in some areas or with people who have complex situations… out of respect of wanting to collaborate with anybody, you need time to build up trust and relationships, getting to know people, them getting to know you…”

 

The final panel of the day focussed on The Social Value of Community Events. With Prof David McGillivray in the chair, the speaking line up comprised; Dr Nancy Stephenson (University of Westminster), Amy Finch (Spirit of 2012) and Prof Gayle McPherson (UWS). Here, the importance of community events and their role in supporting individual and community wellbeing was at the centre of the discussion; particularly as this role has arguably been somewhat altered over the past few years due to the COVID19 pandemic.

“And then there were the events in lockdown that happened on doorsteps… like the clap, we really embraced the clap in our neighbourhood and we had this idea that weekly wasn’t enough. Nightly claps! And  it was just going outside to wave to neighbours. You clap, you wave to neighbours, you go back in…”

 

Once again, huge thanks to our speakers and to our audience whose engagement and perceptive questions added greatly to the discussion and the insights garnered.