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Festivals Toolkit: Strategic Planning: SWOT Analysis

The next step in the process is to take a look at what your group does well, what not so well and the external environment in which it operates.

This is called a SWOT analysis because it looks at your Strengths and Weaknesses, and the Opportunities and Threats facing you. Read the Tourism North East to Strategic Planning information sheet (PDF format) for further information - it can be found in the Related Document section of this page.

SWOT ANALYSIS: a worked example

  • Strengths: attributes of your organisation that are helpful to achieving your objectives.
  • Weaknesses: attributes of your organisation that are harmful to achieving your objectives.
  • Opportunities: external conditions that may help you to achieve your objectives.
  • Threats: external conditions that may hinder you in achieving your objectives.

Identification of your SWOT is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of your objectives may be derived from the SWOT. But completing your SWOT analysis is not an end in itself. You need to take the results of your SWOT and analyse it for its impact on your action planning.

One technique that can be used for this is a TOWS Analysis which is simply a reworking of the SWOT data to derive clear actions based upon how you can

  1. use your strengths to develop your opportunities and/or your opportunities to maximise your strengths;
  2. use your opportunities to minimise the negative affects of your weaknesses;
  3. use your strengths to offset the negative impacts of external threats; and
  4. what actions you can take to avoid the difficult combination of your weaknesses and your threats.

On the basis of evidence provided by festivals in Derbyshire a typical SWOT could be:


  • Committed and experienced staff (whether volunteer or paid)
  • Good track record
  • Good level of local support
  • Marketing operations are sound
  • Events managed effectively


  • Highly dependent upon volunteer support
  • Limited local recruitment to the committee
  • Low base of funding/sponsorship
  • Programme could benefit from some development
  • Audience base is perhaps too narrow
  • Some festivals have legal structures that expose their members to unlimited personal liability


  • Local businesses are an undeveloped resource
  • Local businesses can offer professional as well as financial support
  • ACE and others can offer advice and possibly support for artistic development
  • They can offer the same for audience development


  • Arts funding is becoming increasingly competitive
  • The market for festivals/events is becoming ever more saturated

A TOWS Analysis derived from this SWOT might produce the following options/actions that can be incorporated into a business plan.

Develop local strategic partnerships that offer local businesses a way of raising their profile in the local area through linking with your successful event.

Explore the possibility that a local business can provide your committee with training on the back of its own activities; it may be possible for its own in-house training to be tailored for your needs;
Discuss with local businesses the possibility of a secondment onto your board/committee;
Work with relevant officers within the county council or ACE to devise a development programme for your artistic policy/programme.

Use your expertise to ensure that what you offer remains locally unique and strong so that you build not just retain your existing audience base;
Develop existing contacts with a view to bringing them more into your network.

Explore new ways of raising financial support. Can some of your volunteers be given the challenge of running fundraising events which are fun but profitable? This might also be linked to a recruitment campaign for new volunteers.

The County Fetes website offers some interesting ideas on fundraising, which you can adapt/develop for your needs.

With all the information you have collected from the SWOT analysis and the vision you have agreed, you can now sort out your priorities. This is often the most difficult part of the planning process because it involves you in making choices. You may have lots of ideas about what you could do, but can you really do them all?

To help you decide your goals ask yourself:

  • Will this get us closer to our vision?
  • Does this play to our strengths?
  • Will this make the most of the opportunities and minimise the threats facing us?
  • Will this give us the greatest success for the efforts we will have to make?

Related documents

The following document is in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

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