Decade of Commemorations Leveraging the Past to Impact on the Present

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Community Festivals To invoke a sense of civic pride and ownership and to assist with peace building and community cohesion the Decade of Commemorations could style a number of events as community festivals. These could include street twinnings between north and south Ireland. Town twinning’s are a common phenomenon but street twinning’s are not common and lesser used. Joint parties or festivals could be delivered and co-promoted particularly in border corridor areas where there is a legacy of under investment and decline due to the Troubles (PEACE III).

Quinn, B. (P.9, 2013) states “Community festivals are those that emerge from within a place-based community to celebrate some aspect of its identity. The key objectives are to celebrate both group and place identity” and Allen, O’Toole, Harris and McDonnell (P.14, 2011) state these events engender pride in the community, strengthen a feeling of belonging, and create a sense of place which encourage ‘tolerance and diversity’. These festivals can assist with urban and rural regeneration, promote development of cultural and physical infrastructure, enable access to periphery locations and build awareness of a location. In the context of Decade of Commemorations they could exist to commemorate whilst also meet a local need in building community cohesion which could leave legacy impact. They can assist with developing social cohesion and trust amongst a community by strengthening ties across all identities whilst also being economic generators for the region. This is defined by Quinn quoting Moscardo’s term ‘regional community development’ this labelled event impact under social, capital, community capacity and community well-being which are enhanced by community involvement in events he states that ‘If it does not generate community involvement it is unlikely to contribute much to regional development’ (Quinn, B. 2013, P. 108).

Whilst the impact of PEACE funding in Northern Ireland has assisted with the development of community events there appears to be a disconnect in southern Ireland as to how to engage and broker with communities to develop events from ground level up. This could be due to a higher concentration of rural areas and smaller population demographics in the border and north of Ireland where PEACE monies have been delivered. In urban areas such as Dublin there is a wider sprawl of ‘community’ and larger population which is therefore more difficult to collectively and cohesively bind.

However, Quinn. B (2011, P.11) states that “Community festivals embody the kind of authentic cultural experience so sought after by tourists” and ‘alienation of the local community has been linked to festival failure”. It is very important due to the nature of Decade of Commemorations and its political undercurrents which are sensitive and relevant to Irish society north and south in present day that all work to develop events is brokered from ground level up (communities/citizen led etc.) rather than from top level down (government, tourism bodies, politicians led etc.). There are many community involvement methods that could be leveraged during DOC these include involving schools, creating volunteering opportunities, giving citizens participation in decision making and committee roles, engaging civic and social organisations, engaging member led societal organisations which represent key demographic components within society such as Age Action and National Youth Council of Ireland and engaging business cooperation through organisations such as IBEC. Thus, this will create accessibility of the programme for society and also build awareness. “Gursoy and Kendall (2006) argue that hallmark decision making/political planning is gradually being abandoned as key decision makers realise the value of local involvement and support” (Quinn, B. 2012, P. 93).

MICE – Meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions

A key component for the Decade of Commemorations events will be conferences, seminars and lectures that are developed for both domestic and international tourists. Both NITB and Failte Ireland have assessed visitor motivations and found that visitors are seeking more ‘experiential’ experiences when they visit destinations and Quinn (2013, P.87) states that “In post-production economies consumption around leisure, entertainment and tourism underpin an ‘experience economy’. The real question that conferences and seminars and lectures around DOC themes could evaluate is what if society in 2015 wasn’t about consumption what if ‘experience’ was more deeply rooted into social identity, sense of identity and a sense of place which aligns with the current political climate and topic of ‘identity’ being centre stage for citizens this could co-relate to the dialogue around DOC events and a comparable could be drawn between 100 years ago and present day.

Failte Ireland and NITB have also broken the market segmentation down and ‘Culturally Curious’ feature as a component of the findings of the research (Failte Ireland Report 2014/NITB Report ca2013). Well-developed conferences, lectures and seminars that tap into the rich resource of materials that are available in recently released archives and records available through Kew Archives and the Military Archives in Ireland for scholars and enthusiasts to access could provide an abundance of material for discussion at these conferences. Quinn (2013, P.77) outlines that “Successful promotion depends on effective segmentation” and in this context specifically honing in and developing conferences, seminars or lectures for a niche military or political tourism interest tourist is what could be developed in terms of tourism. A hypothetical conference layout is included in the appendices of this document which shows brevity of areas that could be examined and discussed at one such event. Another possibility for a conference that would reach out globally and also impact on peace building would be for a global conference delivered at the convention centre (as it could be considered a neutral and big enough space to allow communities to congregate peacefully and to accommodate the number of travellers) for the global memberships of the GAA, Orange Order and Ancient Order of the Hibernians. This would take a lot of consultation, negotiation, brokerage and preparation but to get all these memberships into one space and commence joint dialogue would create a powerful impact and positive legacy for peace building. Other possible meetings that could take place during DOC are ones which allow exchange of stories, life histories, photographs and other memorabilia to allow linkages to grow. These could be Gathering style events for the public to share knowledge with one another and exchange or discuss ‘ephemera’ from the period that they may be in possession of.

6.8 Using digital technology to promote DOC conferences and events

There is an increased use of digital technologies and social media in conferences, lectures and seminars such as interactive media (Allen, O’Toole, Harris, and Mc Donnell 2011) such as Twitter walls that users can interact with, post comments and input information in real time. In support of this Addis and Holbrook (2001) state “Providers of commercial experiences can boost engagement by adding the element of interactivity or co-creation to the experience and by ensuring that the experience is deemed personally relevant by consumers. It is deep engagement with the experience that helps make it memorable”. Live streams and webcasts of lectures could also be streamed from conferences. Facebook posts pre and post event can assist with promotion to ‘communities’ and promo videos are a must have promotional tool on the fast growing medium “YouTube” and the most leveraged social marketing tool in 2014. A YouTube channel could be set up for all the material generated at event lectures and seminars to be marketed onwards for video streaming across Android and I Phones to databases of members of organisations such as the GAA, Orange Order ABOD, Macra Na Feirme etc via SMS text messaging. Old heritage such as silent archive film footage that is being promoted on YouTube of the decade of 1912 -1923 could also be built upon by fusing this with new heritage by adding audio from sites such as Arts Across Borders

Promoters should also examine having material specially commissioned for ‘mobile tv’. All this material will need to be seeded to effectively work as a marketing tool. This could be done by building a database of global newspapers, websites, blogs and relevant networks who might be interested in DOC. Editors and journalists could be emailed with a link to the audio, a press piece, a video file and could embed this into their websites. Direct emails which could be in the form of newsletters through Mailchimp or other forms are also useful for the demographic that might want to engage with DOC. The Centenaries Ireland website could be more interactive and allow for comments on the posts, and more invigorating copy posted on it, it doesn't have to be perfect copy it just has to spark debates and conversations and it could cross link into the work of writers/historians such as Diarmuid Ferriter’s posts in the Irish Times.

Another area that could be developed for YouTube promo videos etc. is celebrity endorsement videos for UK markets including key British personalities with Irish lineage such as Steve Coogan, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Pixie Geldof, Danny Boyle and Dermot O’Leary. A large scale civic concert could be developed and these celebrities could be ‘positioned’ within the marketing to create images that resonate with modern Ireland. A theme could be developed such as ‘Come Home Children and Bring Your Friends Too, Everyone is Welcome in Ireland”. Steve Coogan has a large following and a line from one of his films is particularly quipped by his followers “There’s more to Ireland then this” which Tourism Bodies could associate brand Ireland with and leverage as a marketing tool towards ‘Middle’ and conservative England. Though this might be a broader tourism tool then just for Ireland 2016 as there may be some sensitivity by British citizens with Irish lineage to their image being leveraged to promote DOC events.

However to really have effect these mediums need to be ‘seeded’ to foster promo’s going ‘viral’ which could increase attention that sponsors will give to your social media sites. To encourage social seeding promoters should:

  • Create shareable content that users want to share which is creative, insightful and educating all at once

  • Gamification methods such as ‘daring’ users or ‘compelling’ users to like a page in solidarity or support etc.

  • Running social competitions that contain unique prizes or creating unique messages which could encourage users to ‘like’ your Facebook page

  • Motivate conversation and debate by facilitating users with reactionary statements or creative copy and speaking or responding to them to draw, attract and expand on opinions within the posts which can attract more users to the posts who are curious about the conversation. Ask questions to get people to respond to your posts. Elicit opinions to increase reactions.

  • Post at appropriate times during the day when users are most online such as 7am – 9am (People checking emails/social media etc. on way to work) around 1pm for most people sharing (on their lunch break) or 4pm – 6pm (People checking on way home from work) and define your user as B2B (Weekdays users) or B2C (Weekend users). Also Facebook attracts more users towards the end of the week. In terms of Twitter 12pm is the optimal time to tweet with most re-shares between 5pm – 6pm.

Technology applications can also engage a demographic of smart phone owners, according to Bolan (2013) “64% of internet users have a smart phone” that multimedia (video and audio) and personalised conference information can be delivered to. Web based personalisation tools allow for promoters to reach out to attendees prior to and during events with online media and tools such as walking maps and personalised agendas can enhance the experience and create ease for the attendee. Other opportunities that exist for event promoters to reach out through mobile phones include the fact that 1/2 billion of Facebook users are ‘mobile only’ ( and consideration needs to be made by event promoters as to how their promotional content displays on smaller screens. Consideration should also be given to develop a mobile phone app themed “Ireland 2016” that is interactive with events, content, research etc. for people to read.

Online streaming and digitised production of conference content such as webinars and webcasts and digital feeds of live cultural events developed as BBC/RTE co-productions could connect into the internet channels of BBC/RTE this would be a very positive way to reach out to Diaspora and global audiences and build cross border/cross island stakeholder cooperation. In the context of engaging a domestic community in Ireland where there are issues with rural broadband and social media marketing might not reach, SME text messaging could be leveraged to promote events by partnering with organisations such as the GAA and Macra Na Feirme amongst others. Marketing could be disseminated about the events to their database of members directly via text message.

Gamification/Virtual Tools could also bring the period to life by development of specialists apps that give a tourist a ‘virtual’ experience of 1916 on their phone and on the trails. Social media competitions could also be run for online marketing drive only to connect with generation Y. A competition could be run to have ‘guest of honour’ at all 1916 events with unique prizes of things that ordinary tourists cannot access such as ‘experiences’ such as have a specialist genealogist analyse your families connection to 2016, stand beside the president at commemorative events or sleep a night in Aras an Uachtarain and have tea with the president, be a special guest of honour in the Dail for 2016 events, be the first visitor to the new interpretative centre, be the first person to walk the Dubline, be the first visitor to Richmond Barracks and Teach An Piarsaigh etc. Hoist the Irish flag over the GPO on the day of the Easter 2016 commemorations, Lay a wreath on behalf of the Irish or global diaspora during Easter 2016 commemorations. This in effect would make the commemorations more human and less about 'statehood'.

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Image: Number of phones that are connected to the internet which in 2013 was 43%.

6.9 Sponsorship and Income – Developing a DOC brand that can be capitalised and leveraged

Sponsorship defines as “the right to associate with the profile and image of an event and to exploit this association for commercial ends” this can include corporate social responsibility (Quinn, B. 2013, P. 131) which may be a leverage for DOC events and ‘as a cash and/or in kind fee paid to a property (typically a sports, entertainment, event, or organisation) in return for the exploitable commercial potential associated with that property’ (Allen, O’Toole, Harris and Mc Donnell 2011, P. 328). More recent models of sponsorship that have emerged include companies such as Red Bull and Diageo using events as a core component of their marketing strategy and moving away from being event sponsors to organising events themselves this aligns with Allen, O’Toole, Harris and Mc Donnell’s (2011 P. 328) sentiment that “the emphasis is now on ‘connecting’ with ‘rather’ then ‘talking at’ the marketplace” and that the engagement with the brand is based on ‘active participation’ with ‘intense social interaction’ (Quinn 2013, P.69). Further to this UK mobile phone companies who are large sponsors or cultural events have moved to sponsoring events that are modelled around a ‘happening’ in large public spaces in recent years. Research needs to be undertaken to ask if sponsors consider holding an event that they would deliver but that could discuss DOC and civic engagement and/or social activism themes to appeal to Generation Y

6.10 (1) Merchandising and Ephemera

A large amount of materials are available in archives in both Kew in London, Imperial War Museum London and the National Library in Ireland which ephemera and merchandising resources could be developed upon. The Imperial War Museum for instance has archive materials such as song books and photos. Kew archives contains posters and other ephemera. Whilst organisations like Sinn Fein have for many years been selling merchandising such as branded clothing and have branded merchandise for 1916 (Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Mar 2015), efforts could be made by the Irish and British governments to IP protect these materials in the form of a community cooperative/interest company and thus generate a revenue source that could be disseminated back into communities at ground level for projects they may wish to run out of the legacy of the decade’s events. The balance does need to be struck though as the sale of goods could enhance the theme of the event or degenerate it if the merchandise is kitsch and inferior. Resources such as DVDs, compilations with collections of music associated with the period, books, clothing, posters and photos could be leveraged and developed as an income stream for government.

6.10 (2) In Kind arrangements

There may be opportunities within events for in kind contributions. This could be leveraged for example through media competitions where free tickets to events are given away through the press and having key media sponsorship/partners in place which would allow the event to attract other sponsors due to the free publicity an event may receive. Bartering to exchange ‘supplies’ and ‘services’ could also be examined as a possible in kind arrangement for an event.

6.10 (3) Broadcast Rights

Broadcast rights for events, conferences, performances of music etc are a possible income stream for DOC event. However, image broadcasts over the internet can be limited by bandwidth. Podcasts could be placed on the event website or social media feed to which (Allen 2011 P. 208) states “podcasts of literary discussions and debates at festivals have been used to generate interest in the next event”. Co-production partnerships with organisations like the BBC would assist in opening global broadcast channels that Ireland as a small island might not be able to access.

6.10 (4) Grants

Grants are most likely to be an important source of funding for local, regional and national events that are delivered through DOC. Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht has suggested a figure of €35 million will be available for DOC related events and capital resources. Around €31 million of this however will be allocated to capital infrastructure projects. Heritage Lottery Funding of £50 million will be available to projects across the UK and in Northern Ireland. Projects that have an all island ‘Ireland’ remit will be considered for funding from Heritage Lottery monies if they are generating ‘oral history’ from the period as a resource that museums such as The Imperial War Museum in London wish to build a repertoire of. The researcher recommends that a special fund that is a 50/50 split between AHG and Heritage Lottery funding is set up for all island projects also to project a ‘cohesive’ approach to the decade.

6.10 (5) Ticket sales

Ticket sales for civic and private concerts, plays and other cultural art forms are also a potential income stream that could be leveraged for DOC events.

6.10 (6) Fundraising

Crowd funding could be examined as an income stream for events delivered through DOC period.

6.10 (7) Sponsorship

2016 themed events in particular could also attract sponsors who have a very Irish identity in their brands such as Jameson, Bushmills, Guinness, Kerrygold etc. and wish to engage with global Diaspora. However sponsors may fear that division may be prevalent around DOC events due to the political nature of the topics and that this would alienate market segments within audiences and segregate or divide them and thus their brand could be associated with a narrative that is conflictual and divisive rather than supporting community cohesion and peace building. This could be overcome by festivals having equal themes that look at both British and Irish narratives in their content. Public sponsors could counterbalance the aspect of this in this context and could be PEACE programme, British Council, Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht and DCAL etc. but this funding would be viewed as grants rather than sponsorship unless it was brokered into funding agreements that a working partnership which would aim to deliver on the objectives of these organisations was factored into their deliverable content of the events

6.11 Case Study Tall Ships Royal Greenwich 2014 – Sponsorship of a large civic event

The Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta 2014 was a free maritime and family festival that took place over four sites in Greenwich borough London from 5 to 9 September 2014. The festival organisers estimated that up to a million people would visit but attracted 1.17million visitors. Over 1000 broadcast, print and online media covered the event which equated to €4,833,197 worth of free advertising (Sail Training International 2014). To secure commercial sponsorship a number of options were explored varying from sponsors being named on all publicity, editorial and adverts in newspapers and adverts and editorial of partners such as London Live TV station, Evening Standard and smaller regional magazines. A special sponsor’s package in which the team spoke to key partners and depending on levels of financial commitment, provided gold, silver, bronze packages. Naming rights were available on all advertising and editorial, websites, branding was undertaken on the council lamp posts and covers on the audience barriers. The other commercial avenue that was developed was merchandising. Greenwich council went to tender and secured a company called “Business Incentive Group” with exclusive rights to produce merchandise. The idea was that the event would bring people who would buy and then a profit split was applied to merchandise sale. The company produced at their own risk all the t-shirts, magazines, pens, brochures. This was unsuccessful largely due to the pricing that was applied to merchandise. A map was also suggested to be produced in which businesses would sponsor ads around the edges of but this didn’t go ahead due to time limits and the compromise of a magazine offering the same product being produced by the commercial company who won the merchandise tender. Another avenue was explored to charge companies for stands and if companies wanted a stall at a prime site they paid a fee. This went to tender and one company managed all the external vendors and there was a profit split in the contract negotiations. The revenue assessed for profit split consisted of the stand fee (a daily fee) and a % of turnover. Some consideration was given to charging a company if they wanted tables and chairs but it was deemed politically sensitive to charge a company for the benefit of having tables and chairs. The event wasn’t ticketed so no revenue was generated this way. The event will return in 2015 but will remain a ticket free event. What was ticketed was cruises on the ships which was a revenue stream for the boats people boarded a ship were provided with hospitality and sailed up to Tower Bridge.

The boats weren’t charged for coming as they were the attraction. In exploring potential revenue streams new trends were evaluated such as setting up a website via Visit Greenwich which would provide opportunities for advertising. There was also suggestions to use geotags and mobile marketing for where people would walk by a shop, receive a text about offers the shop was running and using QR codes to allow a person to point their phone at a shop window to get a discount in the shop but none of these were realised due to limitations of expertise by the providers of the website. Outside of the council third party vendors such as The O2 capitalised from the event who were within the events geographic territory by providing opportunities to the public to walk over the O2 Millennium dome during the festival as it was a vantage viewing point for The River Thames during the final parade of sail. Emirates airline cable car also allowed people to sit in a cabin over the river and view the parade of sale with a bottle of champagne, a lot of restaurants and pubs had events during parade of sail and generated income from food sales and the markets stayed open late.

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