2019 National Events Conference

The flagship industry conference for the Events & Festivals sector in Scotland
Embracing Innovation, Delivering Change


Monday 9 September

The Gleneagles Hotel

Internationally renowned event experts added as keynote speakers at National Events Conference


Two of the world’s leading experts in the field of major events and festivals have been confirmed as keynote speakers at the 2019 National Events Conference: Embracing Innovation, Delivering Change.

Helen Marriage MBE, Director of arts production charity Artichoke, and leading events academic, Dr Beatriz Garcia, will join the Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop, VisitScotland Director of Events Paul Bush OBE and fellow keynote speaker Bruce Dewar at this year’s Conference, taking place at the world-renowned Gleneagles Hotel on 9th September alongside The 2019 Solheim Cup.

Through her work at Artichoke, Helen has helped create some of the most celebrated outdoor art in recent times, including the Lumiere light festivals, The Sultan’s Elephant, Antony Gormley’s One & Other Fourth Plinth commission and last year’s PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork celebrating 100 years since some women won the right to vote. Artichoke are currently working with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture having recently been appointed to the role of Creative Director.

In 2012, Helen was awarded a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in urban design and planning. Her appointment acknowledged the impact Artichoke has made on the way public art events are negotiated and staged. She holds an honorary fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in 2016’s New Year’s Honours list.

During her keynote address titled “Imagination Sets Us Free”, Helen will consider how our collective imagination and the vision of artists can transform our public spaces and create new connections with our surroundings and those around us. When we live in a world ruled by devices and screens, what happens when you log off and connect to the world around you? 

Helen Marriage MBE said: “I am delighted to be attending Scotland’s National Events Conference and look forward to sharing and discussing my experience of working with artists to deliver largescale transformative events with delegates on the day.”

Joining Helen on the day will be Dr Beatriz Garcia, who has been at the forefront of debates about culture-led urban regeneration since 1999. Her pioneering work on the cultural impact and legacy of mega-events has informed city strategists around the world, from Sydney to Liverpool and from London to Tokyo.

Dr Garcia has led and delivered some of the most high profile projects in culture-led regeneration, first working on the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games cultural programme before studying the legacy of the Glasgow 1990 European City of Culture. She directed the pioneering Impacts 08 research framework on the multiple impacts of Liverpool as 2008 European Capital of Culture (ECoC), and reviewed the first three decades of ECoC legacies throughout Europe. She also conducted the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad evaluation. In 2019, Dr Garcia has become the first culture advisor to the International Olympic Committee and is starting work with Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.

Her extensive career will provide basis of her keynote address, “Impacts 18: Legacy from Major Cultural Events”, which will consider the long term legacy from Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture ten years on, and provide a wider understanding of impact and cultural legacy around other major cultural events, such as the Olympic Games.

Dr Beatriz Garcia said: “After more than three decades of major event-led urban regeneration interventions, we count on an extensive base of evidence about what is meaningful and sustainable for host cities long after a closing ceremony. It is not only about attracting tourism but also about changing attitudes, growing cross-sectoral networks and developing new ways of working. At times of austerity and major changes in our approach to international relations, the cultural legacy of Liverpool 2008 offers valuable insight into how major events can shake up and contribute to city resilience, as well as important warnings about ongoing challenges.”

The National Events Conference is the flagship industry conference for Scotland’s events and festivals sector, including those working in the arts, heritage, sport and wider cultural activity. It is delivered on behalf of sector by VisitScotland's Events Directorate, which includes EventScotland and Events Industry Development.

Director of Events, Paul Bush OBE, said: “I’m delighted to have Helen Marriage and Dr Beatriz Garcia joining our outstanding line-up of keynote speakers for this year’s National Events Conference. Both women are at the forefront of the cultural events industry and will provide the Scottish events and festivals sector with invaluable insight into how events can create transformational change.

“Demand for this year’s conference is high, with the early bird tickets already sold out, so I would encourage people to secure their ticket for the Conference as soon as possible so as not to miss out on what promises to be a hugely informative day of keynote speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.”


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