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Events are vital to Scotland’s economy and support thousands of jobs. These benefits are not only directly related to the events themselves, but can also be found more widely in the supply chain and in tourism.

Building a wellbeing economy is a top priority for the Scottish Government.  This means building an economy that:

  • is inclusive, where businesses can thrive and innovate
  • promotes sustainability, prosperity, and resilience
  • enables communities across Scotland to access opportunities that deliver local growth and wellbeing

About the research

VisitScotland, on behalf of the Event Industry Advisory Group, commissioned a research project. We did so to understand how events contribute to Scotland’s wellbeing and identify measures for wellbeing impacts.

Wavehill Social and Economic Research delivered the research. It comprised a review of existing research and evidence and was produced in consultation with people involved in events.

Read the full report on

Scotland’s people and reputation

Major events have the potential to enhance the reputation of communities internationally. They also help build a sense of pride and confidence at a national level.

Successfully hosting high profile events can enable nations to compete for and attract future events. This highlights the direct contribution that events provide in promoting Scotland’s place in the world.

It also lets Scotland project itself as a proud and confident nation.

Community wellbeing

Events come in all shapes and sizes, enabling people to come together to watch or participate. This can be in a community, cultural, commemorative, recreational, sporting, or arts experience.

A recurring theme in research reports is how events have contributed to improved outcomes for communities. This research covered events and festivals across different sectors and scale.

Small community events may not have significant economic impact due to their scale. But they are important socially and culturally.

  • Events support local pride

    Events create an opportunity for communities to come together. They provide space for interaction for different groups within the community.

    Local pride and appreciation of an area are closely linked to feelings of attachment and a sense of belonging. These are seen by policymakers as key indicators of community cohesion.

    Festivals and events improve perceptions of place. By enabling communities to set up festivals and events themselves, it can lead to a collective process of placemaking.

  • The events sector boosts community participation

    Events and festivals provide an opportunity for people to engage in arts and cultural events. As such, the events industry has an important role in increasing attendance and participation across the country.

    There are numerous examples of the role of events in

    • providing volunteering opportunities
    • the impact of a volunteer’s experience on their wellbeing and social connectedness

Individual wellbeing

Individual wellbeing refers to how people experience and evaluate their lives. This can relate to how "happy" someone feels in the moment or how satisfied they are with their life.

Wellbeing research points to the value of regular participation or attendance at events. This is based on self-reported improvements in wellbeing.

  • Direct individual benefits

    A thriving, inclusive, and diverse events industry provides varied opportunities for engagement. It's more likely to contribute to improvements in subjective wellbeing than one-off events.

    Cultural events can play an important role in helping people to cope with stress. Events also have the potential to directly address issues related to social isolation and loneliness. Both of these are key influencers on individual wellbeing.

    The extent to which someone’s enjoyment of an event or festival translates into longer-term life satisfaction is less clear.

  • Indirect individual benefits

    Several research reports highlight the impact of events in making people feel happier. The creation of an enjoyable experience for spectators contributes to the wider nation’s wellbeing.

    One of the most referenced wellbeing impacts of attending events or festivals is the building up of social capital. A society with high social capital is rich in connections, co-operation, and trust.

    In such a society, people help each other, provide information, and access to opportunities and spend time for the "common good".

Measurement frameworks

The National Performance Framework has the tools to measure the contribution of events to wellbeing in Scotland. The focus for event organisers should be on capturing basic outputs on:

  • the number of participants (or participations)

  • audience size and volunteers along with appropriate profile information

Event organisers can then decide on particular outcome areas to explore in further depth. This can be in both designing their event and measuring its impact, subject to resources available.

Request the full report

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