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An event model: Festival 2018 Balloch, Loch Lomond

  • Where:  Balloch Loch Lomond
  • When:  August 2018
  • Event Type:  Community-led local cultural festival and carnival parade
  • Audience:  Families, residents and visitors
  • Attendees:  The event was held over three key festival zones, including a parade route. The visitor count at the main festival site was 3,500 throughout the day

The detail

  • 42 Stage and street theatre performances throughout the day.
  • 160 Community participants in the carnival parade.
  • 8 Food and beverage stalls staffed by 21 commercial hospitality and support personnel
  • 20 Local craft, gift, information and activity stands spanning products from homemade soaps and confections to guitar lessons, art and photography workshops and environmental projects delivered by a mix of 52 commercial staff and community volunteers.
  • 2 Bouncy castles
  • 1 Bonnie the Seal (a special stage appearance of the European Champs mascot)

Strategic context

In 2018 Glasgow hosted the first ever European Championships, a celebration of sport where existing championships came together over 10 days in venues across the central belt of Scotland. Loch Lomond was the venue for the open water swimming championships.

Taking learning from the success of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, organisers were committed to delivering a major cultural event programme as an integral part of the sporting festival.

Prior to this, Balloch residents contributed to a community town planning process or “charrette” where they identified that more events were needed to help Balloch thrive.

These two priorities created an opportunity for Balloch to develop a local cultural festival with funding and significant support from the larger Glasgow 2018 project.

Event components

Management

Key to the success of the event was collaboration between businesses, residents, local authorities and community groups. A steering group was set up to begin scoping out the objectives of a festival in Balloch.  They looked at the festivals that had been successful in the past, what the challenges have been and how to design an event that would limit disruption while maximising the benefits to Balloch and its businesses.

Planning & formal permissions

Once the event activity areas were agreed by the steering group, the next step was to secure the correct permissions for use of the land and the proposed activities.

  • Landowner consent: The event took place over a number of zones, predominantly in outside areas. The main festival site was in Moss o’ Balloch which is owned and managed by West Dunbartonshire Council who required an application form to be completed following a discussion and finally approval.
  • Public entertainment: For most events and festivals a public entertainment licence is required.  In this instance, it was a collaborative group with the majority of event delivery being provided by the National Park Authority. Therefore the we applied for and secured the license for the event. This meant that we were responsible for the safe and appropriate running of the event within the terms of the license set out.
  • Parade licence: A key component of the event was a carnival parade from Loch Lomond Shores to the main festival site  at Moss O’Balloch. The parade licence asks organisers to consider safety of participants, impacts on residents and businesses and traffic management. Police consultation was critical and allowed us to secure support to manage traffic and additional patrols around the festival site throughout the day.
  • Planning consent: Typically festivals and events fall within “permitted development” in most local authority areas, however there are exceptions.  In Balloch planning consent is required for this type of event activity. This requires an application process that can take 8 weeks if there are no significant objections, but can take much longer if there are any notable concerns raised that might require consideration by the planning committee.

Partners

Partner support was critical to delivering a successful event. West Dunbartonshire Council, Police Scotland, Balloch & Haldane Community Council and a number of businesses all formed our partner network.

With all partners committed to delivering a successful event, we were able to secure advice and guidance and additional resources.

Funding

The event budget had multiple sources of funding.  The ‘Our Place’ fund for Festival 2018, in association with the European Championships, awarded £15,000 as core operational funding for the event by the National Park Authority. They also allocated £10,000 for local groups and performers to create content for the festival. This helped increase local participation and ensure an authentic Balloch feel to the event.

We supported the event with £5,000 in cash and devoted significant staff time and resources. West Dunbartonshire Council provided in-kind support with staff and stage equipment to help dress the village, provide advice and guidance from staff experienced with events in Balloch, as well as bins and litter collections.

The local folk club contributed £5,000 to the event budget, bringing the total value of the event to over £50,000.

A great deal of in-kind and volunteer time helped a small budget go a long way, delivering an event that could potentially have cost a great deal more than budget available.

Audience

The event was designed to engage both a local family audience as well as those from the central belt and visitors to Glasgow attending sporting events as part of the European Championships.

We took our lead from previous community consultation and members of the steering group to ensure the event was targeted at the right audience for Balloch.  It was agreed that a family audience would be best for Balloch and would be more inclusive than perhaps a music festival or evening concert.

Marketing

With little to no marketing budget available, we had to encourage others to market the festival for us. The event benefitted from being part of a bigger, nationally significant cultural programme so was included in the umbrella promotions distributed across Scotland in print and in digital campaigns with a wider international reach.

At a local level we asked all our partners, including the community and businesses, to become advocates for the event, using their platforms to promote it.  We met with local papers to answer their questions about this new festival, how it complimented the sporting activity at Loch Lomond and how this fit with the wider programme in Glasgow.

Making use of the resources available as part of the wider programme was key to generating interest. The European Championships had an official mascot, Bonnie the Seal, who we took to local schools to help children understand and get excited about the event activity over the summer.  Young people are great advocates for events and as part of our promotions we contracted a school pupil to run our social media campaign.

Outcomes

An overview of the event outputs is provided in the two reports here:


Evaluation – Our Place Festival event model report


Festival 2018 outcomes initial report for event model

Legacy

The local cultural festival was held to complement the international sporting competition and, at the highest level, the legacy is that Balloch was showcased as a world-class venue. The location had first been considered for the European Championships by Glasgow 2018 because of its iconic landscape and its ability to deliver previous national swimming events. The landscape and venue quality of Balloch, Loch Lomond has now been seen by over 1 Billion viewers. The successful delivery of the 2018 event in conjunction with local partners underlined its status as a major player – the experience, enthusiasm and ability of local organisations to manage or collaborate on similar large scale projects will be used in the future.

For Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, the legacy of working alongside Glasgow 2018 cemented working relations and helped us to develop skills and confidence in major international event delivery.

The local cultural festival provided a sharing of talent, learnings and experience which can be utilised again by the local community.

Another legacy of the festival is the National Park Authority being able to create this event model to share the experience with communities and businesses across the National Park to stimulate further growth.

At local level, our local clubs and organisations benefited; local memberships grew; exhibitions and artworks were created and a youth club was set up. Festival 2018: Balloch Loch Lomond was held in the Year of Young People and young volunteers participated in the event and benefited from their engagement on the steering group; by assisting with social media; by litter-picking and helping back-stage with the entertainment; and by engaging with the public and providing visitor information on the festival day itself. The entire event provided a wealth of opportunity for skills development.

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