Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Oral evidence: Major cultural and sporting events, HC 259
Tuesday 7 September 2021
Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 7 September 2021.
Members present: Julian Knight (Chair); Kevin Brennan; Steve Brine; Alex Davies-Jones; Clive Efford; Julie Elliott; Damian Green; John Nicolson; Giles Watling; Mrs Heather Wheeler.
Questions 55 - 114
I: Ian Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games; Martin Green, Chief Creative Officer, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and Chief Creative Officer, Festival UK* 2022; Rosanna Machado, Chief Executive Officer, Platinum Jubilee Pageant.
Witnesses: Ian Reid, Martin Green and Rosanna Machado.
Q55 Chair: This is the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, and this is our hearing into major sporting and cultural events. We are joined today by Ian Reid, the CEO of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games; Martin Green, the chief creative officer at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Festival UK* 2022; and Rosanna Machado, the CEO of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. Ian, Martin, and Rosanna, good morning and thank you for joining us.
Rosanna, I am going to come to you first in terms of the Platinum Jubilee. I am really interested about the arrangement and how it is actually being paid for. There is quite a lot of involvement from the private sector and private sector money in this. Can you just explain to the Committee how that actually works and what you expect the experience of the general public to be in terms of that mixture between public and private?
Rosanna Machado: Just to be clear, I am responsible for the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which takes place on the Sunday of the jubilee celebrations. There are four days of celebrations, but my remit is specifically for the Sunday event. For our event, we have set up a private company, so we are self‑funded. We are raising the money. We expect 50% to come from individuals and 50% from corporations to put on this event.
Q56 Chair: It is a 50-50 split. How will that change or modify the experience for viewers at home and those taking part in the pageant?
Rosanna Machado: From our perspective, our remit is to put on an amazing event. That will not change, no matter where that money has come from. We are looking at putting on an event in London, so we are engaging with a number of performers and people on the day who take part and creating an experience for a live audience in central London, but we are also looking at ways in which we can engage with people across the country and across the Commonwealth.
We have a UK audience, and we are encouraging people to think about holding their own local pageants along with their own local big lunch on the same day. We will also be looking at how we broadcast the event, and we will be thinking about our international audience and how we create a digital experience for those who want to be part of the celebrations in a different way.
Q57 Chair: In terms of the private sector involvement, I am still not clear in terms of how that will effectively not change the experience but may potentially perhaps intrude on the experience. Will there be sponsorship? Will the sponsorship be front and centre? How is that going to work? Are we going to have billboards and advertising, effectively, within the pageant?
Rosanna Machado: For the actual pageant, on the day we do not have any actual branding during the actual procession. What we do allow is our partners can say they are a partner of the event. We are looking to find partners that find some match with the themes of the event. For example, some people are really interested in the sustainability element or the training of people, so we are looking to see where we can match our values to the values of the people we are partnering with.
Q58 Chair: It is brand attachment, effectively. The brands themselves get to attach themselves to the pageant, rather than name recognition from the pageant. Is that fair?
Rosanna Machado: Yes. I would say they get to contribute in a meaningful way that means something to their brand and they can say that they are associated with that element of the event.
Q59 Chair: Is this different from previous jubilee pageants? Is this a different approach?
Rosanna Machado: This is exactly the same model as the one that I was involved with for the river pageant in 2012. There is a long precedent. This is exactly the same model that we did in 2012, when we were self‑funded.
Q60 Steve Brine: Good morning to everybody. I would like to start with you, Mr Reid, if that is possible, around the issue of legacy. Should it be incumbent on you as the organiser to look at the impact of these major events and the legacy for the area in which they are held?
Ian Reid: Yes. We are absolutely focused on ensuring, first, that we deliver an incredible 11 days of sport and a fantastic cultural festival and that we deliver, for the significant public investment, a significant legacy for particularly the region and nationally. That is really important to us.
We cannot, of course, as the organising committee, do that on our own. There is a partnership structure that governs the legacy approach to the games, and that is multifaceted. There is a detailed legacy plan published on our website, but, as you would expect, it covers everything from the infrastructure associated with the games and making sure that the capital projects—for example, in and around the aquatics centre or Alexander stadium for the athletics—work not just for the 11 days but, much more importantly, for the community longer term.
We are focused as well in terms of the supply chain and the employment opportunities that are linked to delivering the games. We want to utilise those to work for the longer term. For example, we have a jobs and skills academy linked to the games, working alongside the West Midlands Combined Authority. That is ring‑fencing roles to deliver the games, but actually training people into those, supporting them in outplacement and therefore using the games almost as a catalyst to lead to that long‑term legacy.
Perhaps another good example of that is sustainability. We are working to make sure that, yes, we deliver the most sustainable Commonwealth Games there has ever been, but we have to make sure that works longer term for the city as well, so we are working closely with all partners around how the charging infrastructure supports the games and works for the community in the longer term and how our carbon‑neutral ambitions leave a credible legacy for the community.
For example, rather than just buying offsetting carbon credits in isolation, what we are looking to do is to work with commercial partners to put in place a 2,000 acre forest that will offset that carbon, which can of course then be utilised for the West Midlands long into the future. We are focused on delivering an incredible event, but we would like to think we are doing that in a way that works longer term as well.
Q61 Steve Brine: Rosanna, what did you want to add on that?
Rosanna Machado: From our perspective, we are looking at how we can really engage with local communities with the creative projects we are creating. Where possible, our creative projects have a life either before or after the pageant. You might have seen the large dragon that launched in Plymouth last week, and that is coming to our pageant. We are looking to engage with local communities, but we are also looking at how those creative projects have a legacy for training the younger generation within their local communities.
As a central organisation, we are also offering internships so that people get an opportunity to immerse themselves in the creative industry and also looking at ways that we can offer some sort of volunteering scheme for people. With our sustainability, we will be setting sustainability standards for all the groups that we work with.
Q62 Steve Brine: Mr Green, with regards to Festival UK* 2022, in a snappy sentence, if you had to describe what it is for people listening, how would you do so?
Martin Green: It is a festival of creativity that has brought together creatives from science, technology, engineering, arts and maths to produce 10 commissions across the UK.
Q63 Steve Brine: Yes. Can I ask you about people attending your events next year and the issue of Covid‑status certification, in common parlance known as Covid passports? You will have seen that there is some public debate around that at the moment, particularly for the night-time industries. What would be your view on that, the impact of that on your festival, and the practicality of you having to manage such a policy?
Martin Green: The first thing to say is that, from the outset, pre‑Covid, the festival was designed to be a mixture of live and digital. In fact, that is one of the theses that we continue to test about how we can reach more people by combining all the tools we have. We have never been in a position where the festival wholly relies on its live iterations.
With regards to legislation, as an organisation we will follow whatever the legislation is at that time. That is the most straightforward answer to that.
Q64 Steve Brine: Ian Reid, everybody who comes to the Commonwealth Games has to prove their Covid-status certification. Discuss how that will impact on you as an organiser.
Ian Reid: The first thing to say is that we recognise the environment. The events industry has taken a significant change over the last 18 months. To give the Committee reassurance, we have invested significantly in relation to Covid planning around the Commonwealth Games. We now have a dedicated team on board. We have been working closely with a number of other events over the last few months. We have also had a team embedded out in Tokyo to understand fully how they managed some of the challenges around the Olympics. Of course, we will be working closely with Public Health England and with the public health authorities in the city, and we will continue to learn over the next 12 months up until our games from everything else that happens and evolves over the next year.
To fully support the comments that Martin made, of course, working closely with our colleagues in public health, we will follow the overall regulations that the Government put in in relation to passports or other protections around Covid. We will of course have an infrastructure, and the most important thing is that it ensures that the games will be healthy and safe for those attending. There are a number of workstreams around ensuring that we have the appropriate health and safety equipment available to us and that PPE is in place. We have a testing regime for visiting athletes and officials, if required, and of course, if that had to extend further, we have the ability to do that.
We are very much focused on it. We have used some of our resource—we have set that aside within our prudent budget management—to cover all of those challenges, but we are very confident, as we sit now, that we can fill stadiums, we can fill live sites and we can have an incredible celebration next summer.
Q65 Steve Brine: I have no doubt that you will follow all the rules. They are the law; you would have to. It is perfectly manageable, is it, for you to fill the stadiums and do that while checking everybody’s Covid status? You feel that is perfectly doable within the plans that you have and the resources that you have. The practicalities of that are what I am asking about.
Ian Reid: Yes, we have the resources already planning that. Of course, around games time our workforce will be geared up to put in place the infrastructure necessary to support that, and we are learning from events that are starting to do that already. We have people on the ground, as I say, and are factoring all of those learnings into a plan. We will have an infrastructure in place that can support a Covid‑friendly games, yes.
Q66 Kevin Brennan: Good morning, everybody. I have a few questions for Mr Green, if I may, about Festival UK*. When is the official title of the festival going to be announced?
Martin Green: It will be announced on 21 October, when we will launch the whole project, the full detail of the 10 commissions and what we call the creative conversation, which is the learning participation and wider creative conversation that we are going to have alongside the Commission. It will be 21 October.
Q67 Kevin Brennan: Who actually decides what it will be called?
Martin Green: Our governance is that we are a subsidiary of the OC of the Commonwealth Games. One of the main drivers for that was so we could combine the back office and spend less on administration and more on creative acts, if you like. Therefore, just one example is that we benefit from all the Covid intelligence that the organisation is pulling in, amongst many other things.
We have our own board within that set‑up chaired by Dame Vikki Heywood, and they are the decision‑making body. We obviously work with the four Governments of the UK. It is important to note that the project is supported by the four Governments of the UK. We work with strategic agencies in the three other devolved Administrations, Creative Wales, EventScotland and Belfast City Council as stakeholders and supporters of the project. Our team in Birmingham is the co‑ordination group for that to promote, manage and curate, but the decision‑making body is the board of the festival.
Q68 Kevin Brennan: On that point about the UK Government and the devolved Governments, to what extent do Ministers have involvement in things like what kinds of events will be held, what the festival will be called and so on? Are they not involved at all? Is it completely in the hands of the board? Do they have sign‑off, for example, on it?
Martin Green: There is always an important distinction between sign‑off and good stakeholder management. The only place for sign‑off is the board of the festival. However, of course you want to make sure that the four Governments you are working with, and the strategic agencies, are all fully supportive of what we are suggesting and are part of feeding into that.
I am really pleased to say that we have had magnificent support from the four Administrations, both in terms of supporting the idea of the festival but also trusting the expertise that we have brought in to the company to deliver it, the 300 creatives that we have brought in to deliver it, and the decision‑making of the board. It is an ecosystem that works very well.
Q69 Kevin Brennan: Have Ministers already been told what the proposed name is and given their sign‑off? Rather, if you do not want me to use the term “sign‑off”, have they nodded their approval?
Martin Green: Yes. It is a “no objections” approach, is it not? No, actually, those meetings are taking place this week and next week.
Q70 Kevin Brennan: Is the fact that we do not even have a name for it, although we are getting one on 21 October, as you said, indicative of the fact that no one really knows what this festival is all about?
Martin Green: No. I see it the other way around. It is something new; we were encouraged to try something new. I did not want to name the project until we knew its content. That would feed into it. We started the R&D process; we funded over 500 organisations and creatives, including 100 freelancers, to do the R&D on that, right in the heart of the pandemic. Once we had found the 10 commissions, we then set about using the content of the 10 commissions to feed in on what it should be called. It is an interesting way around to do it in terms of cart and horse, et cetera.
Q71 Kevin Brennan: That is very interesting. Have you actually found out what people think about it in the course of all this work? What is the public’s view of the festival? What might they want from it? Have they even heard of it?
Martin Green: There are two sides to that. If you go into the specifics of the project and the specifics of the festival, because we have not launched it yet it is very difficult to track opinion around that, but what we have done significant research in is the population of the UK’s feelings around creativity and creative events. It threw up some really interesting and positive results, around how people view creativity in others, how they view creativity in themselves and an overwhelming response that they see great value in large‑scale creative events happening. Of course, in the UK we have a long history of delivering such events.
Q72 Kevin Brennan: How much of the budget will go on actually producing cultural outcomes, cultural products and cultural events?
Martin Green: It will be the majority of it, actually. I am just looking to see whether I have the exact figure. If I do not, I can write to you afterwards and do it. We have 10 commissions that are funded between £6 million and £8 million each; we have the creative conversation budget; and of course we have the engagement budget to bring people into that. The majority of our funding goes on public‑facing activity.
Q73 Kevin Brennan: This is my final question. How are you articulating the aims of the festival to try to get all parts of the UK to gather around it and unite around it as an event, given that it did have something of a rocky start when it was announced?
Martin Green: Yes. In that way, perhaps it is not unusual to many other large‑scale events. If we remember back to the announcement that we were going to not only bid for but win the Olympics. You see the journey of UK City of Culture. We are naturally sceptical human beings, but I believe in the end the work brings people together.
We were asked to do two things with the festival. The first is to bring people together, and the second is to celebrate creativity. Those are really the two main things that we have not lost sight of since day one. What we have added is a desire to show, demonstrate and talk about creativity not simply as the purview of the arts. There are many, many jobs—this is where science, technology, engineering, arts and maths is an acronym that is very useful to us—where the basis is creativity. In fact, the future of jobs and skills is largely about bringing all of those together as we travel through this arguable fourth revolution, the digital revolution.
There was a Bank of England report some time ago that said that jobs where creativity is the core skill required will increase by 30% in the next 10 years. That is part of the creative conversation. We want to use these large‑scale commissions as catalysts to have a conversation and hopefully to inspire many, many young people to see creativity in whatever path they choose to pursue.
Q74 Chair: Martin, just to follow up on Kevin’s questions in terms of the relevance of Festival UK* 2022, we had the commemoration of 14‑18 NOW. We heard evidence on this Committee that it was quite a remarkable national effort in many respects, but that had a very particular touchstone to it, a world war. What is your touchstone? Is this not in danger, effectively, of being more of a Millennium Dome type of experience rather than something like 14-18 NOW and the commemoration that we saw around the country?
Martin Green: Everyone remarked that 14-18 NOW revolutionised the way that we commemorate national events and took a very creative view on it. It pushed on the way we look at historic events and commemorations. Again, the project takes a lead from that in terms of doing something new and doing something different.
One of the good things about the festival is that it is not tied to a date or a sporting event. That has allowed us, for instance, to use the whole of the UK as our venue. A lot of sporting events and a lot of commemorative events naturally get sucked into the metropolises, if not the capital. Being released from any of those points means that we can create something that truly goes from end to end in the country and takes work of scale and work of quality to places that all too often do not get it. The fact that it is not tied to a particular date or time in that sense is very freeing. As I say, there is a serious side behind it. The future is creative. The future of jobs and skills, as well as the future of social cohesion, all relies on creativity.
With reference to the dome, we have to remember that there are a lot of people born now who were not around at that time. It was a lesson well learned that, if you want to fail at something, do creativity by committee. I am pleased to say that, if you look at what happened after that, with Liverpool European Capital of Culture, the Olympic Games and Hull UK City of Culture, they have really put the creativity in the hands of the experts and producers and they have produced work that has been incredibly meaningful to its audiences.
Q75 Chair: Martin, what does your festival actually mean?
Martin Green: It is a festival of creativity.
Q76 Chair: Right, okay. It is a festival of creativity. Why at this particular juncture is it necessary to have a festival of creativity?
Martin Green: As we travel through the digital revolution, creativity is a core skill for jobs. It is going to become more important. We still have anachronistic views of what scientists, technologists and engineers do, and we forget too often that the core of that is creative problem‑solving. We have some issues in society around how we deal with getting to net zero and the environment crisis, all of which again requires creative solutions.
It is very much a forward‑looking festival that starts a conversation and demonstrates what happens when these different forms of creativity come together.
Q77 Giles Watling: Thank you for attending today. It is good to see you. I am sorry, Martin, but this question is to you again; I will keep you talking. First of all, following on from what the Chair just said, 14-18 NOW attracted some 35 million people. You are now hoping, with the Festival UK* 2022 to reach some 66 million, I understand. That is the entire population of the country. Obviously, it is not just that; it is international as well. How are you going to reach all those people? How are you going to market this?
Martin Green: This is, again, the thesis. Remember that we are dealing with something new here, so it is very difficult to benchmark, although we can look at examples such as the games and 14-18 NOW to see where audiences are.
The key is the decision to use the new tools that we have absolutely intertwined and dovetailed with live activity. We all know that it does not matter how big a space, there is an end to a live audience. If you bring in AR, digital and of course traditional media—we should not leave that behind; newspapers, radio and television are still powerful mediums—and you combine them all, you are in a position where you can reach and engage, not just passively, many more people. That is the task we have set to the creative teams that gathered to answer the challenge.
What you will have is a continuum of audiences, which starts with highly engaged participatory ones. One of our projects needs 30,000 volunteers to make it happen. That goes right up to those people who are aware of the project and who are intrigued by it, particularly maybe the international audience. That speaks to another part of our aims, which is to continue to demonstrate that the UK is a creative powerhouse to the world and is in a creative dialogue with the world.
I have a huge amount of confidence that, if we combine all the tools that we have, we can prove the thesis that you can reach many, many more people than you would if you were only doing live things and of course you were only restricting yourself to the metropolises or the capital.
Q78 Giles Watling: You are going to reach out internationally, so I would imagine that social media will play a big part in this. You will have a campaign running already, I would imagine.
Martin Green: We will launch it on 21 October. Everything is being prepped to do that. Yes, we will use social media. Yes, we will use different platforms and broadcast platforms. We are not forgetting traditional media. There are still far too many people who do not have enough digital around them.
We have started preparing the runway for that engagement internationally, working with the campaigns of the four Governments who support us but also with the British Council as well, which has an amazing global network, to get that engagement going internationally again. Again, this will be launched from the end of October.
Q79 Giles Watling: Martin, this is a massive undertaking. From the answers you were giving to Kevin Brennan earlier, I just got the impression that perhaps this should have all started earlier. It is Festival UK* 2022. We are getting there quickly. It rather feels like to a certain extent—and forgive me; you will correct me, I am sure—there is a certain feeling that you are being rushed to get it together in time. Is that the case or not?
Martin Green: No, I would not say that at all. Listen, of course, when do you ever not sit there and go, “I wish I had a bit more time”? But, again, we have a national skillset now in creating events against the clock and delivering on time. I used to run New Year’s Eve in London, and you could not be late for that. We have a good skillset around it now, and that shows both in the team that we have in Birmingham and in the amazing teams that we work with in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
You also inherently design the project around the time that you have. The trick there is to not let the time dictate what you are doing, because frankly, for example, if we were really only being governed by the clock, we would not have invested in that all‑important three‑month R&D period that we did last year, where we were able to fund 30 teams of people, 500 creatives, with £100,000 each to develop their idea right in the middle of the pandemic.
There is always a balance, but, between the expertise in the team, the design of the project and a little bit of fearlessness, it has to be said, we are absolutely on track to deliver something quite wonderful next year.
Q80 Giles Watling: What you are saying is that the sense of urgency is not a bad thing. I would like to move on to what this festival is about; the Chair touched on it. Originally, it was titled, “Festival of Brexit”. Are you distancing it from Brexit now that we have had the referendum and things have moved on?
Martin Green: It was actually never titled that. It was a festival of creativity and innovation. It is perhaps due to the creativity of others that it got called all sorts of things, and that is to be celebrated. I am a producer. I work to a brief. That has never been part of my brief. I was asked to deliver a festival of creativity and innovation; we now call it a festival of creativity, because we think those two words are the same thing. I was asked to do something that would bring people together and celebrate creativity both here and abroad, and I hope very much that people will see that we have delivered to that brief.
Giles Watling: Thank you very much, Martin. That has put that to bed.
Q81 Mrs Wheeler: I promise our other two witnesses that we have lots more questions for you, but I am just going to finish off on the Martin bit now. Gird your loins. We are coming to you in a moment, I promise.
Going back to Martin again, please, I am really interested in the digital aspect of the festival. We hear so often about the digital divide in our country. How will Festival UK* 2022 make sure that this digital divide does not happen as much as possible? Could you give us a little flavour of how you think that will be part of the legacy of this, please?
Martin Green: It starts simply by being absolutely aware of the fact that not everybody has the same access to technology. Too often we do see that this bit is missed out. Again, it is about making sure that you have a full ecosystem. Yes, we are going to be working with social media platforms, AR and VR. Yes, people can get to that through the internet and online resources.
We also have projects that are bringing that technology into libraries, where people might be able to experience it and learn about it for the first time. As I say, we also do not forget traditional media in this. What we say is that no one should be further than the palm of their hand, the radio, the television or a newspaper from really being able to engage in the project. Then of course you have your live iterations as well, where people can come and experience the project.
This is the exciting thing about the project. The way that we encouraged the 10 commissions to make their work is that ultimately no one should be left behind, whatever their situation. It actually creates a very creative landscape in which to pull something together when you know that you can work in all of these different kinds of ways and in every area as well, be it rural, coastal or urban.
Q82 Mrs Wheeler: That sounds very worthy and is a great vision to have, so I am delighted you have that. One of the things that the UK is very well known for is broadcasting platforms and streaming. You say that you are going to be using the existing media that we have now and also more modern media going forward. Is there an opportunity for not the BBC but the terrestrial television groups to learn from this about future streaming and future digital work? Might that be part of your legacy too?
Martin Green: I very much hope so. It has to be said that one of the first broadcasters to get involved in this project absolutely was the BBC. It is their centenary year next year, and I know they want to show that they continue to be a dynamic and relevant organisation when it comes to digital platforms.
They helped us design the R&D programme that we went through. It is not an exclusive deal; we are working with other platforms, and we are open to all broadcasters. Again, that speaks to the fact that we want this to be a really open festival. Everyone has come in wanting to use it to experiment. By “experiment” I do not necessarily mean very niche stuff. How do you experiment with new technologies and new ways of doing it when you want to reach huge audiences?
You saw this recently with the BBC. We used to talk about the red button when it comes to games coverage and things. That is increasingly becoming anachronistic now. It is really about the flexibility of the iPlayer and the other streaming services that are available, so people can really consume things in their own time in a way that suits them. As we look to the legacy of the project, I am sure we will discover new things, particularly about how we reach very large audiences and not niche ones.
Q83 Clive Efford: Ian, if I can turn to you, you took over the Commonwealth Games from Durban in 2017. Therefore, you did not go through the normal bidding process, through which you build support from stakeholders, businesses and local communities, et cetera, as part of the bid. How have you been able to engage with stakeholders in the absence of that bidding process?
Ian Reid: Thank you for the question. You are absolutely right to set that context. Just for the rest of the Committee, the games were awarded to Birmingham about four and a half years before the event itself. Normally, there would be a seven‑year cycle of planning. That has meant that we have had to accelerate and bring very much the experience that the UK is known for into the project.
We are delighted that we have a team in Birmingham that have worked on the likes of the London Olympics, the last Commonwealth Games in 2014 in Glasgow and other international events. That has really helped to put us in a position whereby we have caught up in relation to that shorter time period. We are very much on track; we are very much on budget.
You are absolutely right to raise the question around how we make sure that we also bring everybody on that much shorter journey. One of the things we did right at the outset when setting the mission for the games in that later time period was actually just to speak to stakeholders and people on the ground about what they wanted from a Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. That has set our mission.
We did not set the vision and mission for the games through a boardroom discussion or using an agency; we talked to thousands of people across the West Midlands, and they told us they wanted a games that would bring people together, that would improve health and wellbeing, that would help them grow and succeed—of course, right now that third one is more important than ever, post‑pandemic—and that would be a catalyst for change. Perhaps the item that came out most often from that engagement was that they wanted a games that would very much put Birmingham and the West Midlands on the map and showcase this incredible city and region. There has been some buy‑in from very early on, because that engagement and that vision has been developed with stakeholders and the community.
In terms of delivering the games, yes, I lead the organising committee, but you will all be aware on the Committee that it is very much a multi‑agency stakeholder approach. There is an incredibly strong partnership delivering the games. We would not be in the position we are in without that strong partnership, recognising that shorter time period. Whether it is our colleagues at DCMS, Birmingham City Council or the combined authority, the Commonwealth Games Federation or the police and transport agencies, everyone is working very closely together.
Every day I am in admiration of everybody on the ground who is focused on delivering something special in 2022, very much up against the clock. The fact that we are still on track and on budget is a real testament to the expertise that we have in the region and the country.
Q84 Clive Efford: Given the shorter timescale, is there anything that you have missed out on? Developing venues and things like that quite often requires planning. Have you had the co‑operation of local authorities in what you are trying to achieve? Is there anything that you have missed out on because of the shorter timescale?
Ian Reid: The first thing to say is that one of the reasons that Birmingham was attractive to the Commonwealth Games Federation is the existing infrastructure that was already here. Some 95% of the venues that we are using were in place and operating with experience of hosting major events before the games were awarded.
There are two major capital projects, one being the redevelopment of Alexander stadium and the new stand going in there and the second being a completely newbuild aquatics centre being developed as we speak, in Sandwell. I am delighted to say that, despite the shorter timeline and the challenges of Covid, both of those capital projects are on track and on budget.
Again, that is a real testament to everyone working on those projects on the city councils and on the ground, considering that challenge. I have been fortunate enough to visit them both recently, and they are both looking incredible. They will showcase the region in a really great way.
In terms of all the material outputs that we expect from the games and that we hope to deliver, there is not anything that we have missed out on. We want to make sure we deliver those legacy benefits that I mentioned in my first answer but also, around the games, the employment opportunities, the ability to inspire young people to take up sport and just to showcase the city and the region.
The BBC is our exclusive rightsholder in the UK. I know they are already planning a significant amount of content to make sure those broadcast positions do not just show the sport but showcase the region to the international audience. We will deliver all of those things that we are all familiar with from these international multi‑sport events here despite the shorter timescales.
Q85 Clive Efford: Can I just move on to ask you about the comments from the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation? He said that the current model of the games is “not sustainable” and that Birmingham will be “the last one of this size”. I think that is very sad; what is your view on that?
Ian Reid: In relation to what we expect now from multi‑sport events, the context of those comments was around actually thinking innovatively and delivering these events more efficiently. One of the things we are incredibly proud of is that, despite the fact that there is obviously a significant public investment in these games, they are going to cost considerably less than the last iteration of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
We have hopefully started that downward trajectory and are driving efficiency. That is not compromising on deliverables. That is doing things working closely with the federation to deliver things in a more efficient way. From their perspective, their new model is around, for example, making sure we can take systems from games to games, which did not happen in the past. The organising committee used to have to start from scratch. We will make sure that there is expertise that jumps from games to games to get things accelerating in a much quicker way and take that learning forward in a more efficient way so we can continue to drive down the costs.
I know they are thinking innovatively, though, around how the games are delivered, the sports programme and everything else, because, yes, we do need to make sure that cities can afford to deliver the Commonwealth Games. I am sure you will be aware that the last few iterations of the Commonwealth Games have primarily bounced between a few countries, and I know the desire of the federation is to expand that. The only way it can do that is to deliver a more efficient model.
It is absolutely the right thing to do, but I would agree with you: I am not sure the intention at all was to compromise on all the special experiences that everybody has from a multi‑sport event like the Commonwealth Games.
Q86 Clive Efford: When we think of the Olympics, there are lots of sports for which the Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport; to participate and win medals in that is the pinnacle of the sport. I cannot think of any, but are there any sports for which you would say the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of the sport.
Ian Reid: Yes, absolutely. I can give you some examples. If you are a lawn bowler, the Commonwealth Games is the ultimate prize. If you are a netball player, the Commonwealth Games is the ultimate prize. For the first time ever, if you play women’s cricket, the Commonwealth Games medal will be the one to win next year for the first time in Birmingham. Those are just a few examples. Squash is another one where the Commonwealth Games is very much the pinnacle.
We do very much have those sports. We have an incredible array of sports to showcase here. We have 19. We have everything from the marquee sports that you would expect to see in athletics and aquatics, but of course we have some really modern sports in the games now as well. We have a site right in the city centre, the Smithfield site, next to the Bull Ring, which we are going to convert and use to put on 3x3 basketball and wheelchair basketball, alongside beach volleyball. We will put a live site there, and that will definitely attract the huge young population that we have in Birmingham back to the games. We have a great array, but, as I said, for a lot of those the games are very much the pinnacle of some of those sports.
Q87 Clive Efford: I just have one last question on the Commonwealth Games to you, Ian. If there are no cities that want to bid in the future for the Commonwealth Games as it currently is, is there a potential that we here in the UK would be the host of the Commonwealth Games in the future, it would permanently have a base here and we would host it every four years?
Ian Reid: I should say that as chief executive of the organising committee for Birmingham, I do not have a role in terms of future games. I liaise closely with the federation and others, so I am not involved with their detailed discussions. It is hard to give a view on that. What I would say is that I am aware that there is still significant interest from cities internationally for the 2026 games. There is a lot of discussion going on as we speak, and they are still hopeful of identifying a city in the near future. I would fully expect there to be future international hosts, but I am not in the room when some of those detailed discussions are taking place.
Q88 Clive Efford: Can I just ask a quick follow‑up question to Martin and Rosanna? You have a lot of experience of delivering on previous events that you have done successfully. Let us take Coventry, Martin. Four years on from Coventry or even four years on from Hull, what would I find in those cities that is a benefit that has come as a result of being the UK City of Culture?
Martin Green: I can speak to Hull personally, because I was privileged enough to be the director of that. There are some very physical examples. We started a 2,000‑strong volunteering workforce in 2017, and that workforce is still on the ground in Hull, going strong. I see them every time I go up there. We also strengthened the arts infrastructure there, so we managed to get more national portfolio organisations out of the year.
The city also looks very different. One of the side effects of a UK City of Culture is that it is particularly good for the entrepreneurship in the city. They get great confidence from it. If you go to Hull now, the city looks physically very different, because the entrepreneurs have taken those buildings that stood idle for too long and they are redeveloping them, including around the marina area.
That also transfers to the council in the city. Their work is changing. One of the main legacies of Hull is that it was in receipt of a £15 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to completely redevelop and reignite its maritime offer. That is just nearing completion now.
If you go back to Hull after all these years since 2017, you will find a city that still has the same problems that many cities have right across the UK, which have been compounded by the pandemic, but you will find a city that is incredibly confident and sees 2017 as an ignition point for that confidence. I am sure you will find that in Coventry, the UK City of Culture underway now, and whoever the next recipient is as well.
Q89 Clive Efford: Rosanna, four years after your pageant, what will I find?
Rosanna Machado: Particularly for the creative and the events sector, there will be a real regeneration. I am really keen that that happens locally with local creative groups. It is an opportunity for people to take on those big projects and to train the next generation of people. A lot of projects that we are commissioning will live on. My hope is that they will tour across the country so that other people will get to see this if they do not get to see it in person in London.
Q90 Julie Elliott: Good morning, everyone. Ian, I have enjoyed listening to the way you are handling the games next year and the approach you are taking, but who are you looking to engage with domestically and internationally? What is your target audience? Who are you looking to engage with?
Ian Reid: The first thing to say is that, from a domestic perspective, we are very much trying to position this as the games for everyone. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but the real driver behind that is to make sure that we deliver an event that feels accessible, that everyone can feel engaged with no matter where they live in the West Midlands and the country, and that they feel they can play a role in delivering the games.
If I can just bring that to life a little bit, just yesterday I attended the opening of our volunteer selection centre. That is where we are interviewing 25,000 individuals from right across the country to be part of this incredible workforce. We put a huge amount of effort into making sure that those applicants, through our marketing campaign, genuinely reflect the West Midlands and the country. We have more than ever before in terms of young applicants, in terms of applicants from ethnically diverse communities and in terms of disabled applicants. When we compare that to the volunteer workforces from previous games in the UK, we are in a much better place. There will genuinely be an incredibly warm welcome from a workforce that looks and feels like the West Midlands.
If I can even extend that simply to those who are engaging in terms of watching the games, we launched our West Midlands ticketing ballot a month or so ago. We go national with the main ticketing ballot tomorrow. Through our budget planning and our prudent approach, we have focused on making sure that tickets are as affordable as possible. If I just give you an insight into that, tickets for kids are starting from £8; tickets for adults start from £15. The average ticket price is around £25. We have more than a million tickets for sale at £22. If you compare that to elite sport events both nationally and internationally, it is incredibly attractive. We are putting programmes in place to make sure that those who cannot even afford to come to the games based on that price schedule have opportunity as well. We genuinely want everybody to feel that they can engage on some level.
Even things like our ceremonies, which Martin’s team are leading in relation to mass cast recruitment, have some incredible initiatives to get everybody involved. We want to connect as best we can. Of course time has proved a challenge in that, but we now have a significant community engagement team. We are on the ground every week in terms of taking sport out to the community and working closely with national governing bodies. We are in a good place, but we need to build right up to the games in terms of getting that community support and that stakeholder support nationally.
Internationally, of course the last 18 months has been a much greater challenge than we ever anticipated. The first thing to say on that is that we have absolute commitment from all the teams across the Commonwealth to still attend the games and participate fully, which is great to hear. Just last week, we had our first in‑person visiting delegation; we had teams from Barbados, right across the home nations and some of the European participants physically in Birmingham doing venue visits and all fully engaged.
We recognise that the Commonwealth Games is a huge opportunity for the UK in terms of its trading and business relationships across the Commonwealth as well. We will have the largest business and tourism programme that there has ever been in a Commonwealth Games. There is well in excess of £20 million being invested in that. That is about putting UK and West Midlands businesses on the Commonwealth map and making sure we support them with export opportunities and inward investment opportunities. We want to build on the incredible regeneration and growth of the city and make sure it becomes an incredible tourism and inward investment destination. There are significant resources to deliver that.
We are working across the Commonwealth, using assets like the Queen’s Baton Relay, which will visit all of those countries, to make sure we deliver on those aspirations as well.
Q91 Julie Elliott: You have touched on some of the returns that the city will hopefully have in the future from some of this engagement, but how important is it to reach the audience you have identified to get a return on the investment for the city in the future, both domestically and internationally?
Ian Reid: The first thing to say is that we are absolutely conscious that this is a significant amount of public money and we need to give a multiple of that in economic benefit for the city and the region. If you look at previous Commonwealth Games, for example on the Gold Coast, the Queensland economy benefited to the tune of about £1.3 billion. The Glasgow economy benefited to a double multiple of the investment that they put in the games.
We would expect at least that from the public investment in Birmingham as well. That is hugely important to us. Making sure that our procurement opportunities go to national and regional businesses is going well, and we continue to focus on that. As I say, most importantly, we want to make sure that the games genuinely resonate on the ground and that people feel part of it and that people feel a benefit from it. That is our focus going forward.
Q92 Julie Elliott: Looking at spectator capacity, what are you expecting the average spectator capacity to be across the events in the games next year?
Ian Reid: To give you a sense of scale, we will have around about 1.5 million to 1.7 million tickets to sell for the games, and we expect, potentially, that number again to engage on the six‑month cultural festival that is built around the games as well, so there are a huge number of opportunities to engage, but, as you rightly flag, it is also a challenge to make sure we sell those tickets.
We already have some information, because we ran a West Midlands ticket ballot, which was simply for those with a West Midlands postcode. That exceeded our expectations for an event that was a year away. We were selling tickets still with some Covid challenges, and we were of course a little uncertain about where the appetite would be. We were absolutely delighted with the response. In the West Midlands alone, we had 850,000 ticket applications.
Q93 Julie Elliott: What is the capacity for the average spectator event? I do not mean how many tickets you have already sold. What is the capacity for the average spectator event?
Ian Reid: Our desire is to have 100% full‑capacity stadiums. If we look back to previous Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which is a much smaller commutable catchment area, effectively, they sold 96% of its capacity across all sports of the Commonwealth Games. From a budget perspective, we have a bit more of a prudent estimate, as you would expect, in terms of managing money. At the moment, we are probably budgeting around 80% capacity, but our absolute desire is to sell every single ticket. So far, we are in a very good place in relation to that.
Q94 Julie Elliott: Have you got a point where you break even in terms of capacity?
Ian Reid: We have a ticketing financial target, which is built on a capacity assumption. I do not have the exact figure in front of me, but that will be between 70% and 80% capacity. As I say, hopefully that is a prudent estimate and we can beat that. That might generate some revenue for us to do some other exciting things as well.
Q95 Chair: Just to follow up on a few points, Ian, you mentioned before that the boost to the economy in Australia was £1.3 billion. I believe that was the figure you used. You hope that there will be at least that in terms of Birmingham. Do you have any actual figures in terms of what you really expect it to be? Do you have any targets? Do you have any particular ambitions? Is it just this loose target of £1.3 billion, or is there something more tangible?
Ian Reid: We have public investment of £778 million in the games, and we are using that £1.3 billion as a baseline because that is obviously a significant return on that public investment.
That is a baseline target, so to speak, because it is benchmarked to previous games. Of course, it is in everyone’s interest to try to exceed that. We now have an independent company on board who will be doing the full legacy and benefits economic evaluation of the project. They are pulling in all the employment, the social value and the economic benefits from the games to that analysis. In terms of that baseline target, yes, we would like to exceed that Gold Coast figure.
Q96 Chair: I understand that you would like to exceed it, but are you confident that you will exceed that £1.3 billion?
Ian Reid: In terms of where we are on the journey now, I believe, yes, we are generating the returns through our procurement programme, our employment programme, the jobs and skills academies and all the other commercial benefits that come from the games that will generate, yes, at least a return that is similar to what we saw in the last games.
Q97 Chair: Turning to the aquatics centre in Sandwell, it is purpose‑built. The London Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park has drawn a bit of criticism in the past for basically being a bit of a white elephant. What is to stop Sandwell becoming likewise a white elephant?
Ian Reid: Thank you for the question. This is really important from our perspective. When you say “purpose‑built”, I would agree with that, but the purpose this venue is being built for is not the games; the purpose is for community use. The council’s strategy is to move their community leisure facilities from existing facilities into this brand new, state‑of‑the‑art facility. They have a very strong handle on the demand and how that facility will be used by the community. It is very much being adapted for the games; it is not being built for the games and adapted for the community.
While, yes, we are using it for aquatics and the diving competitions, the resources available to the community within that facility extend much wider, whether that is all the gym facilities, the incredible outdoor facilities that are there, or the spas and other things as well. As I said earlier, that community demand will move to this new state‑of‑the‑art facility. I know the community is incredibly excited about that. The design is focused on that and not focused on the games.
Q98 Chair: Presumably its location is more central as well. One of the complaints about the Olympic Park was that it was stuck out in a particular part of London. In that respect, then, when it comes to the aquatics centre, when you have actually designed it, have you learned the lessons from London 2012 in terms of the idea of a real legacy when it comes to infrastructure?
Ian Reid: The first thing to say is that of course, if the Committee would like to visit, we would welcome you to come and see the aquatics centre. When you get a sense of the building and the plans that go with it, it will give you some significant assurance about how it will be used.
Just to give you some insight, for example, for the games themselves we will have about 5,000 seats to watch the aquatics. Those seats are immediately taken out post games and the capacity goes down to a much more manageable 1,000 seats. The space that those additional 4,000 seats were in are used for badminton courts, squash courts, dry facilities and changing facilities. That gives you a sense that this is not a building that is built as a white elephant or for elite sport; it is very much focused on community use.
I am very confident that it will be very well used going forward due to its location, the incredible work that Sandwell Council have done in planning alongside the community, and their understanding of that demand that already exists with existing facilities.
Chair: The Committee may take you up on the invitation to visit the aquatics centre. We will dust off our speedos in anticipation.
Q99 John Nicolson: There is a thought. I hope you are not having your lunch. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Ian, can I start off with you? We all know that you are running the Commonwealth Games, and of course the Commonwealth is an offshoot of the empire, with all the terrible memories and legacy of empire. I know you are from Glasgow, and Glasgow, like Birmingham, has a slavery legacy. I wonder what challenges you have in reflecting those colonial legacies and integrating them into Birmingham 2022.
Ian Reid: We understand that history, but our focus is very much on that modern family of Commonwealth nations. It is a voluntary association with an incredible charter focused on human rights and other things that we would expect to see.
In fact, when we look at Rwanda and the Commonwealth Games, it is a recent joiner. It already hosted a Commonwealth Games Federation General Assembly. They can very much see the benefits of that family, but we are not naive to the history that you mention. You will be aware of some of the activity that has gone on in Glasgow recently in terms of those challenges.
If I start from an athlete activism perspective, at the moment the Commonwealth Games Federation is very much looking at the policy around that. I know they have a passionate belief that athlete activism and advocacy humanises rather than politicises sport. We very much encourage athletes to use their voice and seek to reduce inequalities and build peaceful communities.
We are engaging regularly with communities right across the West Midlands to make sure that they feel engaged in the games and that we are delivering in line with their expectations. We have a huge amount of activity across the games’ footprint, some of which is through the cultural programme. We will also visit every country with the Queen’s Baton Relay, which starts in a few weeks’ time from Buckingham Palace. Those are all opportunities to engage with those communities.
Q100 John Nicolson: Is there anything specific on the issue of slavery and the legacy of empire?
Ian Reid: There is nothing specific that we are doing specifically on slavery, no. As I say, our focus is on the modern Commonwealth and making sure that we reflect all those values looking forward. There is nothing specific that the games is doing on slavery.
John Nicolson: I notice that Martin has his hand up about this. Martin, maybe you would like to dive in.
Martin Green: Yes, perhaps I can come in. As you will know, one of the parts of my job is to run the opening and closing ceremony and the culture programmes, amongst others. It was really important to us from the outset that we said that those were particularly spaces where artists, creatives and communities could have any conversation they wanted to have around the Commonwealth and its history.
Arguably, because sport is so codified and set, it is the cultural spaces around the games that allow the space for people to have those conversations. Now, it was not for us to say what those conversations should be about; it was important that the offer is there. I can say—we will release the full programme in January—that the culture programme will fully explore a lot of the issues around empire and Commonwealth, as I am hoping our opening and closing ceremonies will as well.
We need to bring all our audiences with us. We need to have these conversations. We can remain celebratory and we can still bring people together and celebrate the power of global sport—this is 4,500 young people meeting together, at the end of the day—but it is very important that we have those spaces to have those conversations.
Q101 John Nicolson: Some of the Commonwealth countries, Martin, are the most homophobic countries in the world. Will there be a challenge at the Commonwealth Games over some of these policies? Will lesbian and gay people be able to express their views about some of the appalling homophobia that folk are subjected to in Commonwealth countries?
Martin Green: Yes, they are some of the most homophobic countries in the world. Fortunately, this project is being led by one of the gayest men in the world.
Q102 John Nicolson: Who is that?
Martin Green: It is me. That is what is important about building teams where different voices are represented. My part of it is very much LGBTQ‑led, and I am really pleased to say that, again, in the cultural space and in other spaces we have projects that are very much being run by those communities in order to have those conversations and highlight the issues around that, as I hope the Queen’s Baton Relay will as it travels around the Commonwealth.
The tagline to the QBR is, “Let’s take it on”. That means taking on social issues and injustice issues as we talk to young people around the world, who invariably have very different views to the views that the grown-ups want them to have.
Q103 John Nicolson: “The Queen’s relay” takes on a particular meaning, does it not, in that context?
Rosanna, from the perspective of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, are you going to be looking at the legacy of slavery?
Rosanna Machado: We are really focusing on the seven decades of Her Majesty’s reign and the society that we have become. We are very much reflecting on some of the past, but we are also quite future‑looking and forward‑looking. We will be engaging with Commonwealth countries. We are running a project with schools in Commonwealth countries around the theme of sustainability.
Q104 John Nicolson: Can I move on and ask you about something else? We know that this is not being called the Festival of Brexit anymore. It is just as well, really. What is to celebrate? We are told that event organisers are experiencing shortages of equipment, workers and drivers. How concerned are you about the knock‑on effect that this will have on your ability to deliver? This question is for you, Ian.
Ian Reid: It will not surprise you to know that we are currently reviewing the environment in which we operate, and we continue to do that through our risk management and issue management processes. When we look at the requirement that we have for the likes of logistics drivers or the availability of resource, that is something that we try to get ahead of and try to mitigate.
For example, we talk to our logistics providers regularly about how they are retaining their workforce, what measures they have in place and what confidence they have that they can deliver. A lot of that is contractual, but of course, in the environment that they are in, we need to get very much into the detail and get assurances about making sure the events world, and in particular Birmingham 2022, will get the resources and the people it needs. So far, we have got that reassurance. We will continue to get across that. At the moment, from an environment perspective, yes, Covid is putting a lot of additional pressure on us.
Q105 John Nicolson: Is it Covid or Brexit, or both?
Ian Reid: It is not for me necessarily to say exactly. I do not know exactly what the drivers are. What I am focused on is—
Q106 John Nicolson: You know what is causing a shortage of drivers, do you not?
Ian Reid: Indeed, we understand that there is a shortage of drivers in the market. Selfishly from a Birmingham 2022 perspective, we are doing all we can to make sure that drivers are available for our event. Through our supply chain, we are getting assurances that that is the case. We do that in relation to areas that are impacted by Covid as well.
We are very much focused on the specific issues, getting resolution and making sure that we are in a strong place to give our board, our partners and our funders the assurance that we are minimising the impact of some of those environmental issues on the games.
Q107 Alex Davies-Jones: Thank you to our witnesses for joining us this morning. We have heard from a number of witnesses over the past 18 months about the impact that the events industry has faced in terms of insurance and the lack of insurance. Has this been an issue for you, Rosanna, if I can come to you first? Will the pageant be relying on commercial providers in the insurance market to provide pandemic insurance?
Rosanna Machado: We are currently looking at cancellation insurance. All the brokers that I speak to say that they will not cover pandemic insurance. At the moment, we are waiting to hear more about the Government scheme to see whether or not that will be something we take up, but it is an issue because we cannot get cover for it.
Q108 Alex Davies-Jones: Martin, if I can come to you, then, are the Government insuring Festival UK* 2022? Ian, is it covering the games for Covid‑related disruption, for example?
Martin Green: If you do not mind, can I let Ian go first? Our answer follows on from his, because we are a subsidiary of the OC.
Alex Davies-Jones: Of course, yes.
Ian Reid: From a games perspective, we are actually in a very fortunate position. As part of the whole city contract for the games, there is a Government contractual underwrite for the Commonwealth Games. Effectively, to answer your question, we have a Government‑backed insurance policy. Clearly, we do not want to use that, but in an extreme event, if Covid drove a significant refund policy, for example, for ticketing, we have been given reassurances that the underwrite would apply in that extreme situation.
Martin Green: As a subsidiary of the OC, we benefit from the same Government self‑insurance policy. We then have the 10 commissions, and they are currently working their way through what insurance means to them and working with our brokers and taking advice on that. We are also interested to see the Government’s own insurance scheme.
I would finally add that, rather serendipitously, pre‑pandemic we chose to make 10 commissions that would dovetail in a mixture of live, online and broadcast media. We have an additional thing here, because we are not a set sporting event or a set pageant, where we can relatively nimbly swing into either one as we learn more about what the pandemic will mean next year, based on the intelligence and information that comes from the OC’s Covid team.
Q109 Alex Davies-Jones: If I can move on now to the legacy for the creative industries and freelancers, we know that these people have been hit significantly as a result of the pandemic. They have been unable to work and excluded from the vast majority of support schemes that were brought forward. Martin, how will Festival UK* 2022 help rebuild the capacity of our freelancers and our creative types?
Martin Green: I am really pleased to say that it started with the funded R&D. I was really committed to the fact that, if you want to do something magnificently creative in the UK, you have to ask the creatives. We put out a call right in the middle of the pandemic. We had 290 teams respond. That equated to 2,500 organisations and individuals. We were then able to fund 30 teams over three months with £100,000 each. That included over 100 freelancers. I know anecdotally and from our research that for many of them that period was the difference between sink or swim.
Importantly, not only were we keeping the lights on and keeping things open, we were also paying creatives to do what they should do, which is make and create work. Now we are moving in to the production or we are right in the middle of the production of the 10 final commissions. Again, we have nearly 100 freelancers working in those teams. Those teams are growing every single day as we move to production, as is the team here.
We are a reasonably significant employer in the creative industries, but, as we go through the project next year, I am absolutely convinced that the extraordinary work they produce will lead to more work. Again, that is investing in our young creatives. Remember that the teams were asked to be made up of, yes, some of our great and good and our big organisations but also all too often underrepresented voices and smaller organisations working at scale for the first time.
We will see those employment opportunities, I hope, come out of the other side, as well as being part of the greater picture of creative renewal, getting our creative industries front and centre and, crucially, getting audiences to that work.
Q110 Alex Davies-Jones: Rosanna, could I ask you the final question? It is on legacy. We have seen that the Notting Hill Carnival has offered a hardship fund to support the performers. What responsibility does the pageant have to the cultural supply chain prior to and then after the pageant is finished?
Rosanna Machado: From our perspective, we are really keen to make sure we are working with companies and creative groups locally so that they can build capacity that can then continue long after the pageant. We are also employing people centrally as part of our team. I see it as a two‑stage effect. One is the creatives that we take on centrally, and then we are fanning that out to local communities.
As we are a company set up just to put on this event, we will not be in existence after this event, because we will shut down after that. We are trying to partner with other organisations so that that work can continue afterwards. We are also talking with Martin and his team to see whether or not some of our projects might be able to collaborate or go on to their projects after we are finished.
Q111 Alex Davies-Jones: You mentioned the organisations and creatives that you are working with. Are they mainly in London, or is this a United Kingdom piece of work? Are you reaching out to all areas of the UK?
Rosanna Machado: We are indeed. We are working across the UK and also then across the Commonwealth, with the schools in the Commonwealth as well.
Q112 Chair: Rosanna, just to follow up on that, what does being a private company mean for your ability to deliver long‑term legacy?
Rosanna Machado: It is challenging that we will not be around after the event, but what I am trying to do is to make sure that everything we do does have a legacy. We think about our environmental footprint. I am keen to ensure that any of those learnings are shared with the events industry. I am also keen to ensure that we can help people experience the creative sector through volunteering, through partnering with the Ideas Foundation and through running internships with Creative Access. I am also talking to Spirit of 2012 to see whether there are any ways that we can collaborate with them. I am working to do what we can with our event but also to partner with other organisations so that it can live on past the time of our company.
Q113 Chair: Do you recognise, though, that it is more difficult to have a legacy from a one‑day event than something that goes over a whole year like the other events we have in front of us today? What are your realistic expectations from that? Are you tailoring it to the fact that you are a one‑day event and therefore legacy is going to be something that is a good thing but may not be something that is really core and central to what you are trying to do?
Rosanna Machado: I do not see it as just a one‑day event. We already have social media happening, but next year we will also develop our digital platform so we can actually get people to share their ideas and thoughts around the ideas of the pageant, so there will be some build‑up to the event, and after the event the legacy of the projects living on and continuing through the country means that it is not just a one‑day event.
Martin Green: I just want to make some remarks in support of what Rosanna was saying. As many of you know, I was lucky enough to be involved in the creation and the production of the opening and closing ceremonies of the games. The opening ceremony of the Olympics happened on one night, but there are 15,000 people, an entire country and a globe who have a never‑ending memory of the joy of that moment and being participants in that. We talk a lot about legacy in terms of bricks and mortar and financials, but we also need to talk about the legacy of memory and the legacy of social cohesion.
Just to finish, I always remember a volunteer in Hull turning around to me and saying, “I have had the most amazing time. I have lost eight pounds and I have made 10 friends”. It is not glib. This is extraordinary. That was a health outcome and it was a social cohesion outcome, in that case for someone who in retirement had become socially isolated. I do speak rather passionately about the legacy of memory and the legacy of the one‑off. As Rosanna rightly says, it is very rarely a one‑off.
Q114 Chair: Hold on. With respect, Martin, Hull was not a one‑off, though, was it? It was effectively a longstanding event. That sort of makes the point.
Martin Green: No. I am sorry. The beginning of that was about the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games as a relatively one‑off act.
Chair: You were not responsible for the closing ceremony, though.
Martin Green: I was responsible for that too. In that case, that show was watched by more people than the opening ceremony.
Chair: Ian Reid, Martin Green and Rosanna Machado, thank you very much today for your evidence. That concludes our session.