The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Creative and Cultural Industries can be difficult to quantify. Metadata about events (theatre productions, music and comedy gigs, sporting fixtures, days out, and more) are an untapped resource for cultural analytics that can be used as a proxy metric for financial and social impact. This article uses a sample of large-scale cultural events data from UK industry providers Data Thistle to ask: how can events data at scale be used to quantify the financial and social effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the cultural events sector in a particular region? We analysed the changes in event provision in Edinburgh in August 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, revealing an estimated 97.3% fall in ticketing revenue between 2019 and 2020. Additionally, the effects that pandemic restrictions had on different categories of event reveal a disparity in how different audience sectors were affected, with ‘Visual Art’ and ‘Days Out’ showing most resilience and ‘Theatre’, ‘Comedy’ and ‘LGBT’ events being most reduced. Our findings indicate that events data are a rich but heterogenous source of information regarding the cultural and creative economy, which is not yet routinely used by researchers.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

Cite as

Black, S., Filgueira, R., McAra, L., Miles, B., Parsons, M. & Terras, M. 2024, 'Evaluating events data for cultural analytics: a case study on the economic and social effects of Covid-19 on the Edinburgh Festivals', Creative Industries Journal. https://doi.org/10.1080/17510694.2024.2311883

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Last updated: 29 March 2024
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