Background Good Grief Festival was planned as a face-to-face festival to engage the public in multi-disciplinary research about grief and bereavement. Due to COVID-19, the festival was held online over 3 days in October 2020.
Aim To evaluate the festival’s reach and impact.
Methods A pre/post evaluation was conducted via online surveys. Pre-festival surveys assessed reasons for attending and attitudes to bereavement across 4 items (being scared of saying the wrong thing, avoiding talking to someone bereaved, knowing what to do if someone bereaved was having trouble, knowing what kind of help/support to offer). Post-festival surveys evaluated audience experiences and the 4 attitude items.
Results 8500+ people attended, with most attending 2–5 events. Pre-festival survey participants (n=3785) were majority women (91%) and White (91%). 9% were from Black or minoritized ethnic communities. 14% were age ≥65 years, 16% age ≤34 years. 44% were members of the public. A third had been bereaved in the last year; 6% had never been bereaved. People attended to learn about grief/bereavement (77%), be inspired (52%) and feel part of a community (49%). Post-festival participants (n=685) reported feeling part of a community (68%), learning about grief/bereavement (68%) and being inspired (66%). 89% rated the festival as excellent/very good, with a higher rating associated with attending a greater number of events. 75% agreed that through attending they felt more confident talking about grief. Post-festival attitudes were significantly higher across all 4 items (P<0.001). Free-text data showed appreciation e.g. for the online format, connection in the context of lockdown and ethnic diversity in speakers. Suggestions included improving registration, more interactive/arts-based events and reducing the volume of content.
Conclusion Good Grief Festival was successful at reaching a large public audience, with data indicating benefit in terms of engagement and confidence. The evaluation was critical in shaping future events.
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