Investigating the recovery of community events in Scotland, post-COVID-19

Nick Davies, Lindsay Robbins, Daniel Baxter, Maren Viol, Alannah Graham, Aleksandra Halas

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Community events are significant for building community identity and cohesion. During 2020-2021, events largely halted due to COVID-19 and many communities lacked the capacity to recover their events quickly, in comparison to larger more well-resourced events. The study seeks to understand and learn from the experiences of Scottish community event practitioners’ during the disruption and recovery period for their events.

A targeted qualitative questionnaire elicited open-ended responses from people involved in the management and operation of community events in Scotland. Focus groups were also conducted with relevant practitioners to further elicit data.

Four key themes emerged. 1) COVID-19 fractured stakeholder networks and impacted the ability of community events to operate. Practices adapted to incorporate virtual events. 2) Events were considered as important for place-building and wider collective community benefits. This was brought more into focus for practitioners as a result of the pandemic. 3) Local authorities were variable in the level and support they gave community events. 4) Some positive changes were enforced through COVID-19, such as collaboration between small event collectives which can build resilience for community events in the future.

The research provides an analysis of community events, which are often small-scale, diverse, local, unique to destinations, and under-researched compared to large events. It particularly builds understanding of their resilience to sectoral disruption, through the lens of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, an extraordinary disruptive event. This paper provides practical strategies for community actors and local authorities to improve event delivery and leverage community events as place-builders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Event and Festival Management
Early online date3 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Oct 2023


  • Event Management
  • Community Events
  • COVID-19
  • Community cohesion
  • Resilient communities
  • Social sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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