Essay: Event organisation: Merchant City festival

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  • Event organisation: Merchant City festival
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This report is going to look at the Merchant City festival which takes place in Glasgow city centre. on the streets of Merchant City. The report is going to look into the public policy environment that is relevant to the event. The relevant policies are Glasgow City council lead, and they were introduced in order to ensure that events held in Glasgow produce positive impacts on society. The Merchant City festival is a major social and cultural event that takes place in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre. The event usually lasts over a 4 day period in the last weekend of July, however due to high demand and attendance in recent years, this year’s event was extended to a 9 day period starting on the 24th July to the 2nd of August. The streets of merchant city are transformed into an animated scene, with many street stalls which serve different types of street food and offer handmade crafts from all around the world, pop up dining areas to eat the food, a live stage featuring musical performances, street art, street performances and cinema screenings on a giant projection screen. The event organisers focus largely on the health and safety of the people in attendance and the environmental impacts the event has, as the festival takes place outdoors.
Section 1: Event Development Report

Public Policy

Public policy is far from an easy thing to describe as scholars have many different definitions. This is because public policy has many key attributes, which makes it’s impossible for one definition to be determined. As taken from Getz(2007,p328) he states that “‘Public policy’ consists of a goal-directed process by governments and their agencies, manifested in laws, regulations, decisions (both actions and inaction) and intentions of governments regarding specific problems or general areas of public concern.” Or to put it more simply, Public policy broadly is the actions that the government does or does not do, to address certain issues or problems in society, these could be regarding the public wellbeing, the environment, culture or the economy. These policies can be in the form of laws or regulations that the general public, including events managers, will have to apply by, in order for any actions they undertake to benefit the greater good of the public, this comes under the ‘public good argument and ideology’. Getz (2007, p330) states that “The key to this powerful argument is to demonstrate important benefits from events that accrue to society as a whole – or to the economy (which should clearly benefit us all), and to the environment (everyone supports a healthier, safer, more sustainable environment).

Public policy is split into a number of different policy domains these include, economic, social, cultural and environmental. Event managers are drastically effected by public policy as they have to ensure that their organised events adhere to all of the policies relevant to their specific event, in order to ensure that the event can take place. These policies can affect events managers in a positive way as they result in positive impacts being produced for society by the events that they organise. However these policies can also act as a hurdle for them and their abilities as they will have to limit or change some of the initial ideas that they have in the planning process of their events. With regards to the Merchant City Festival they have to adhere to public polices produced by the Glasgow City Council, Scottish authorities and the UK national authorities as a whole.


Stakeholders are all of the individuals or groups of people that help to make events happen, without them the event evidently cannot take place. Stakeholder’s actions ultimately affect and have an effect on the events that they are involved in. Stakeholders will all have to work with and support each other by providing information and receiving input from all of the people involved in the event and the planning process, to lead on to a successful event development that adheres to public policy priorities.

The Rational-comprehensive’ model is a model that Event Mangers can use as a framework to analyse and undertake a public policy development. It allows them to identify the problem, and determine different approaches and compare them with each other’s to overcome the problem. With this outdoor festival the manager is tasked with improving the environmental impacts caused by the event. The figure below shows how this model work.

Figure1.1 ‘Rational-comprehensive’ model Leisure and tourism policy and planning

(Veal, 2003.p82)

Relevant Policies to the Event

All of the policy domains are relevant to the Merchant City Festival because it’s such a large scale event that attracts such a large amount of people each year. As the Festival takes place outdoors the event stakeholders have a responsibly to be as environmentally friendly as they can, by adhering to relevant environmental policies. Also social policies are extremely relevant for the festival because the event attracts a lot of people and social policies aim to encourage the enhancement of the public health and safety, wellbeing, and education. The festival also has relevant polices to adhere to which come under the cultural policy heading, as it is a cultural event. Cultural policies encourage cultural diversity and creativity, which ultimately helps in the development of creating social cohesions and contributing to economic growth. Celebrating different cultures is generally the main reason for the festival taking place.

Getz (2007.p342) states that “a policy to foster sustainable events (a ‘triple bottom-line’ approach: economic, social, environmental) will go much farther to conserve the environment and ensure long-term support for events”. Long-term support ensures a sustainable city with long term benefits. The fourth section in Veal’s ‘Rational-comprehensive’ model (Veal, 2003.p82) is ‘Environmental appraisal’, this emphasises that Event Managers must always consider the effect that any event development has on the surrounding environment especially if they take place outside.

Sustainability has become such a major trend in the event industry and Glasgow City Council has really taken this positive approach to event planning on board by introducing policies and projects aimed at improving the quality of life in the city both socially and culturally through protecting the environment. Two regional policies which are relevant to the festival are the Glasgow City Council lead initiatives ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ and The ‘Glasgow City Council Food Safety Enforcement Policy’

Sustainable Glasgow Policy

To produce a sustainable event, sustainability policy should always be the first step. ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ is an initiative that was formed in 2010 by Glasgow’s City Council to make Glasgow a city that obeys sustainable policy and ensures appropriate action. The aim of the policy is to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Glasgow by improving the quality of life in the city through protecting the environment. Sustainable Glasgow is a partnership between the city’s council, the University of Strathclyde and a host of businesses with the aim of making Glasgow one of the most sustainable cities in Europe (Glasgow City Council,2015) This is a great initiative as currently the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, therefore cities are the best place to start taking action on environmental issues (Sustainable Glasgow Project, 2014) as this is where the majority of the issues exist.

Sustainable Glasgow also wants to make cultural and social amenities accessible to all. They are trying to get the community to come together to work on making Glasgow a safer and healthier city. The initiative outlines an approach to help the environment in Glasgow through a number of sustainable and low-carbon projects. These fall into the following categories:

◾energy management

◾efficiency and policy

◾reduction of high carbon fuels

◾low carbon energy systems

◾low carbon heating and district heating

◾sustainable transport

(Glasgow City Council, 2015)

This policy is relevant because the Festival takes place outdoors on the streets of Merchant city. Therefore the Festival has a responsibility to ensure the event is as environmentally friendly as it can be, in order to look out for the health and well-being of the people in attendance at the event. The yearly Festival is also one of the main cultural festivals to help Glasgow City Council’s objective, to create a more sustainable city with long term positive impacts.

Glasgow City Council Food Safety Enforcement Policy

The ‘Glasgow City Council Food Safety Enforcement Policy’ was introduce to ensure that all food produced, distributed, and consumed within the City is safe, and of good quality demanded by the consumer. They do this by to applying the principles of better regulation. Food Safety legislation is enforced by Land and Environmental Services, Business Regulation Group. The Policy is undertaken in accordance with the Council’s corp
orate goals relating to, service delivery, food quality and good customer care. Additionally, this policy ensures that all food environments also apply by the requirements of the Food Safety Act 1990 Code of Practice. (Glasgow City Council, 2015)

This policy is relevant because the majority of stalls at the event are food stalls, therefore these vendors have to adhere to this Food Safety Enforcement Policy so that the food is at a high quality and safe standard to serve to the public. In order to look out for the public’s health and wellbeing.

Public Sector Agencies

In order to help with the planning and organising of an event in Glasgow, the Glasgow city council have introduced the ‘Glasgow’s major event Charter. The introduction of this local agency team within the local government, guarantee’s the city and event managers the provision of support for their events, as the team is dedicated to assisting events taking place in Glasgow. The Merchant City Festival organisers can use this charter to help with the Planning of the event every year. These officers will work in partnership with any event organiser to help them with event licensing issues, permissions, and any actions to ensure the safety and security of the event attendees. By organisers in Glasgow working together with this team, it will ensure that adhering to the government public policies be made significantly easier.

Additionally on a national level ‘Creative Scotland’ could be a potential agency to approach for help with the development the proposal. Creative Scotland is a National agency body who helps with the development of the arts, creative industries and culture in Scotland. They currently have an existing initiative programme called ‘the 10 year plan’ (Creative Scotland, 2015) which runs from 2014-2024. One part of their plan focuses on the environment, where they have developed and implemented an environmental policy that emphasis’s their continuous support of their funded organisation to now be more sustainable and focus on reducing carbon emissions (Creative Scotland, 2014).

Section 2: Outline of Development Proposal

Development Proposal

The festival has been extremely successful in achieving its cultural a social aims, however the event could do more to build on their goal of providing more of a safe, family friendly environment. The Festival takes place outdoors, therefore it is extremely important that the festival adheres to environmental policies in order to make the event environmentally friendly and a safe, low carbon environment for the people in attendance. In order for festival to do this, the development proposal is for them to make the event more sustainable through the foods stalls equipment and the food use by them. The proposed development for the stalls equipment is that each stall could introduce LED lighting, where the lights on the stalls would be powered by solar and wind, which would draw a lot less a lot less power. This is in line with ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ priorities to ensure energy management through low carbon energy systems.

If any days where to be cloudy or still then the festival could also have a backup generator, but instead of using diesel powered machines, it could be powered by the used vegetable oil that the food stalls use to cook there food. Vegetable oil is bio deasil and costs less money to use. This development is in line with the public sector priorities of the ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ low carbon project, as these types of generators result in a substantial reduction in poisonous carbon monoxide, helping the environment.

With regards to the food that the stalls use, it could be introduced that the food vendors at the event must all use fresh produce in season, as this will generally mean less energy has been used in its production, and also use more fair trade products. This is in line with the ‘Glasgow City Council Food Safety Enforcement Policy’ priorities, as this development would ensure that the food served at the event is safe, and of good quality demanded by the consumer.

This development would make the event a lot safer for the public with regards to their health and wellbeing, helping the event adhere to relevant social policies and extremely relevant to adhere to the ‘Sustainable Glasgow’ initiative.

Event Critical Analysis

The Merchant City Festival definitely adheres to the cultural policies relevant to it throughout the entire event. This is because the festival is literally jam packed with culture. Not only does the event have many stalls to showcase food and handcrafts from all around the world but it also showcases the local food produce from Scotland and provides an opportunity to showcase local performers, designers, Artists and craft makers.

The event provides daily talks, showcases and workshops all available for the general public to get involved in. This provides a platform for designers and artist’s to discuss and share their processes and products, which is extremely relevant as Scotland is preparing for 2016 to be – the Scottish Year of Architecture and Design as developed by creative Scotland.

The Festival also adheres to the social policies by bringing the local community of Glasgow together in social cohesion to experience and celebrate the local talents that Glasgow has to offer. There are also a few number of food stalls serving only organic foods and there are also a vegetarian stalls produced by a popular local Glasgow vegetarian restaurant called the 13th note. The stall promoted healthy eating to the public ensuring that they are looking out for their wellbeing to help combat obesity and poor health.

However it’s only been in the past to year that the festival has gotten extremely busy especially at the weekend and with drink in the mix people have the tendency to act in a disorderly way. This means that the event is now in need of more security to control this. There wasn’t enough security there this year which resulted in crowd surges and fights taking place between drunken people.

The festival somewhat adheres to the environmental policies regarding the event including sustainable Glasgow, as the event has segregated bins with signs on them saying; general rubbish, recycling, plastic etc., so that people put the correct items in the correct bin. This is good as it ensures an easy sorting for waste. However they could do more to adhere to environmental policies which is why this development proposal was created.


In conclusion events and event managers are drastically effected by public policy as they have to ensure that their organised events obey and adhere to all of the policies relevant to their specific event, to ensure that the event can take place. One of the Glasgow City Councils current main priorities is create a Sustainable city, therefore this development proposal is very relevant to the public sector priorities as it introduces new ways that the festival can look out for the environment.

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