Community events: a cornerstone for building new communities
We are sometimes asked about the value of community events when we first suggest creating one on a new development. To some, it can seem that they are an awful lot of time, effort, and money, for ultimately not much financial return.
On the back of a recent double event weekend, where we held a mini festival at one site and had our first events committee-led picnic at another, it seemed like a great time to reflect on just why community events can be vital tools in establishing community in new developments.
Here are three reasons why we think community events should be on your ‘to do list’ for a new development:
- Firstly, people enjoy them! That’s as good a reason as any when part of our role in Communities is to boost and protect the reputation of the developer. Putting on events encourages people to come out and meet their new neighbours, and reminds them why they wanted to live in the area in the first place. A calendar of regular events also provides a major selling point for new developments because – as a number of studies have now shown – people buy into established communities. It also generates good news stories and photos showing a vibrant community, which lend themselves well to newsletters and other resident-focused materials, including those with a marketing focus.
- Secondly, events encourage ownership of a community. Whether you give your residents a sneak peak of planning applications to come, or plan an event with a home-grown events committee made up of residents and local groups, creating a sense of togetherness is central to building a community. Supporting residents to take charge of a seasonal events calendar is a huge step towards achieving the legacy of community which we should all be aiming for.
- Finally, there is no reason why community events cannot be profitable. Running a bar or ticketing the event is a great way to generate some revenue, which can in turn be funnelled back into your next event, lessening the cost to your budget next time around. Most residents expect to pay something towards the event on the day itself, so asking them to pay for a second glass of Prosecco or to put a couple of pounds towards an entrance ticket doesn’t cause any ill-will and ensures that the next event can be even better than the last! As residents take more control and our role turns to that of a supportive hand-holder, they will be able to seek funding more readily from external sponsors and even community grants.
Our ultimate aim with community events is that they become self-sustaining, so that when we all step away from the development, the community is fully equipped to take the reins and continues to grow and flourish. That all important legacy.