In 2022, the XXII Commonwealth Games were held in Birmingham, the largest major event held in England since the 2012 Olympics. Celebrating the hosting of the Games, the Birmingham 2022 Festival (B2022) was a six-month programme designed to champion and spotlight the region’s arts and cultural sector, while embracing the heritage of the area and its people.
The Festival aimed to cement Birmingham’s reputation as an international region of cultural and creative excellence. Championing local work, the cultural programme included over 165 projects, curated by 993 organisations and a 4,954-strong workforce.
To demonstrate the cultural, social and economic impacts of the programme, the Festival sought an extensive, innovative and cost-effective evaluation solution that could be applied across the six-month period of work and report against the seven objectives that made up its Theory of Change.
“This evaluation of the Festival’s impact demonstrates that we really did achieve our mission from this unique programme – instilling an enduring sense of pride and belonging right across the West Midlands”Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands Read Impact Report
To capture the breadth and diversity of the Festival’s impact, successes and learnings – a comprehensive evaluation plan was devised to collect, manage, analyse and report the vast volume of the project, audience, participant, artist, volunteer and workplace feedback required to meet the evaluation brief.
A consortium panel was established to manage the research project, with Culture Counts jointly engaged alongside Indigo-Ltd, Professor Jononthan Neelands from the Warwick Business School, Counting What Counts and Punch Reports.
A modular and outcomes-based evaluation framework was employed to address the most important factors of the brief. The implementation of the framework consisted of three distinct phrases:
Phase 1: Set-up and Document Review
Establish the evaluation requirements of the Festival Organising Committee and other evaluation stakeholders.
The requirements were integrated into a project plan and scoping document, which formed the overall evaluation plan and strategic alignment, ultimately leading to the development of a baseline indicator report.
The plan mapped how each metric within the framework aligned to an outcome area, a delivery strategy or a funding stakeholder. Once the evaluation plan was finalised, the baseline report then established how each indicator could reference existing data sources, enabling the reporting of the Festival’s impacts with appropriate KPI comparisons and targets.
Phase 2: Data Collection and In-Event Monitoring
Implement a distributed and collaborative data collection methodology that aligns with the partnership delivery approach of the Festival programme.
Each Festival programme delivery partner was required to collect feedback from audiences, participants, artists and staff in relation to their specific project. A Project Hub was set up on the Culture Counts website to serve as a key information portal and project management tool for those participating in the evaluation. Using the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform as one of the primary data collection tools, each delivery partner registered their project on the portal and received a set of unique survey links to collect data.
Delivery partners could customise their surveys as part of their registration, enabling them to collect data strategically relevant to their organisation, as well as data that could aggregate into the overall Festival reporting. Delivery partners used Culture Counts to also report on their project activity, such as attendance numbers, project goals, project locations and organisational spending.
A total of 623 surveys were created for the 170+ projects across the festival, capturing 8,124 responses.
Phase 3: Reporting and Post-Event
Deliver high-quality publications reports to share with significant stakeholders and funders
To prepare the findings for the reports, an analysis was conducted on the data collected via the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform. Throughout the Festival, data was aggregated in line with the evaluation framework and presented in a Power BI Dashboard that was accessible to the Festival Monitoring & Evaluation Team.
The Festival engaged a range of evaluation partners to undertake focus-area case study reports that would expand on elements of the overall evaluation report. A total of nine reports were released, of which four reports were created by Culture Counts and its consortium partners, with Punch Records acting as the lead organisation for the three case study reports.
“These reports are the result of 12 months’ work collaborating with the Organising Committee, with the support of all the projects and individuals who took part. The collective effort in gathering these findings has allowed us to tell a story of how a large-scale cultural festival can resonate with local people, illuminate untold stories of the region for a wider audience, and build capacity and resilience in the sector. I’m now excited to see how the region builds on these outcomes for the future.”
Katy Raines, CEO, Indigo-Ltd
Birmingham 2022 Festival Impact Report
An overarching evaluation report of the key findings of the festival including engagement (audience, participants and volunteers), programme outcomes, outcome areas and economic impact.
Co-Creation Case Study Report
Explores co-created activities where local people were given agency in the planning and delivery of projects they participated in, offering an opportunity to foreground their experiences as they engage with the mainstream arts sector.
Skills Development Case Study Report
Outlines the long-term impact of commissions which offered opportunities for local people to grow their abilities through participating in the Festival, and community togetherness these projects facilitated.
Untold Stories Case Study Report
Evaluates how the Festival enabled communities to engage with and feel connected to forgotten or excluded stories of the West Midlands’ collective culture and identity.
The Birmingham 2022 Festival (B2022) was a six-month celebration of creativity in the city and region which demonstrated that when sport and culture come together, they achieve more than the sum of their parts.
Ian Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games reflects on the economic impact and benefits the cultural programme contributed to the Games overall success:
“The Birmingham 2022 Festival has boosted the regional economy by £100 million and added a further £87 million in GVA, including £47 million directly from tourists visiting the Festival. This clearly shows the value that weaving sport and culture together can bring and we hope that future organisers will build on and learn from our successful delivery of this programme.”
Ian Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Key outcomes achievements included:
- An audience of over 2.4 million enjoyed the Birmingham 2022 Festival, reaching more than 41,000 participants.
- International collaborations during the Festival generated an enduring legacy, with 86% of projects saying they plan to continue developing new international relationships
- By exploring some of the city’s untold stories, the Festival facilitated the presentation of a bold, uncompromising, and challenging public identity, positively disrupting audiences’ experience of the city.
Raidene Carter, Executive Producer, Birmingham 2022 Festival, shares her thoughts on how the Festival empowered people from Birmingham and beyond to experience a world-class event that showcased talent and creativity on a global stage:
“In delivering the Festival as part of a Commonwealth Games, we commissioned a body of work which reflected this wonderful region and shone a light on our creativity and heritage…There is great insight from the reports for future host cities of both sporting and cultural festivals to digest and learn from and we’re grateful to all who contributed to them, and to the independent evaluators.”
Raidene Carter, Executive Producer, Birmingham 2022 Festival
For more information, visit the Birmingham 2022 Festival Evaluation website.
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Banner image: Fluitō – Georgia Tucker. (Image credit: UNKNOWN from Image bank)