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2012 Cultural Olympiad

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2012 Cultural Olympiad

The 2012 Cultural Olympiad was a programme of cultural events across the United Kingdom that accompanied the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics.


The Olympic Charter, the set of rules and guidelines for the organization of the Olympic Games and for governing the Olympic Movement states that

"The LOCOG shall organise a programme of cultural events which must cover at least the entire period during which the Olympic Village is open."

London 2012 Festival

The London Olympic Games' Cultural Olympiad included 500 events nationwide throughout the UK, spread over four years and culminating in the London 2012 Festival. The cost of the events was over £97 million with funding provided by Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor.

Those involved in the festival, which ran from 21 June to 9 September 2012, included Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett, director Mike Leigh, musician Damon Albarn, artists David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Rachel Whiteread, and writer Toni Morrison.

Twelve British artists were commissioned to design posters for the games: Martin Creed, Bridget Riley, Rachel Whiteread, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Bob and Roberta Smith, Anthea Hamilton, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris and Howard Hodgkin.

The Cultural Olympiad comprised a number of programs including: Artists Taking the Lead, Discovering Places, Film Nation: Shorts, New Music 20x12, Stories of the World, World Shakespeare Festival. Many of these involved public participation, for example Discovering Places encouraged people to explore their local environment and identify 2012 species, Film Nation was aimed at young people making short films, and Stories of the World involved young people working with 50 museums across the UK.

The Bandstand Marathon on 9 September 2012 was the closing event of the London 2012 Festival, and saw live music events take place at over 200 locations across the U.K. Participating bands were invited by Coldplay to perform their 2008 single "Viva La Vida" simultaneously at 2.00pm to celebrate the end of the games.

Artists taking the lead

Artists taking the lead consisted of twelve major Arts Council funded public art projects one for each of 12 UK regions. Each project received £500,000 funding.

Paralympic Cultural Festival – Unlimited

Alongside the 2012 Summer Paralympics, the Paralympic Cultural Festival (or Unlimited Festival) brought hundreds of deaf and disabled artists together, and Unlimited featured 29 new commissions, including artist Sue Austin's film documenting her performances in a self-propelled underwater wheelchair, and Paul Cummins' 'English Flower Garden'. Ticketed events were held at the Southbank Centre, as part of the London 2012 Festival, featuring the debut performance from the Paraorchestra.

The place widely regarded as an inspiration for the modern Olympic games, Much Wenlock, also featured with a May Day event called M21: From the Medieval to the 21st Century in collaboration with DASH (Disability Arts in Shropshire); artists included Simon McKeown.

The Unlimited commissions drew much mass-media and popular attention, as did the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony called Enlightenment, featuring Stephen Hawking.

New Music 20x12

New musical works commissioned from 20 composers performed around the UK and at the Southbank Centre, London. Artists included Howard Skempton, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Irene Taylor, Luke Carver Goss, Joe Cutler, Graham Fitkin, Mark Prescott, David Bruce, Aidan O'Rourke, Emily Howard, Conor Mitchell, Sheema Mukherjee, Michael Wolters; Oliver Searle, Aaron Cassidy, EXAUDI and Richard Causton.

World Shakespeare Festival

Programming themed around the plays of William Shakespeare was a major part of the London 2012 Festival. Most of the programming was part of a strand titled the World Shakespeare Festival, which included translations, adaptations, and re-workings of Shakespeare's plays. This festival began on 23 April 2012 and finished in November 2012. It was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and involved the British Museum, Shakespeare's Globe, the Barbican Centre, the National Theatre and the Almeida Theatre, among others. It included approximately 70 productions related to Shakespeare's plays, over half of which were performed in a language other than English (particularly those which formed part of the Globe to Globe Festival at Shakespeare's Globe). Shakespeare also featured in the BBC's 'Shakespeare Unlocked' 2012 season (particularly The Hollow Crown (TV series) and in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. The World Shakespeare Festival also included the Worlds Together Conference, an international interdisciplinary conference exploring the role of Shakespeare and arts learning in young people's lives. At the grass roots and with the support of the performers' union, Equity, many events occurred around the country, not least the première of a new play entitled Shakespeare's Queen Elizabeth the Second, which was also performed in Stratford-upon-Avon and open air celebration of Shakespeare in, literally, John O'Groats and many locations south. Equity-backed events also occurred in London, for young people and school children, every two months from 2010–2012.


The Cultural Olympiad was not the only partially or fully surrounding Olympics events organized in the UK as well. Other like digital or real world ambush marketing were held. Or presence of Olympiad and culture associated with it(like games, unofficial or official profiles) in digital World, and social media, which were far greater than last 2008 Olympiad. In some cases it was a first source for cultural reference and changes – for example posting of "unofficial" Olympic condoms by one of athletes on Twitter was widely commented and special "brand unit police" investigated it. Importance of culture and social changes was also Athletes twitter campaign against Rule 40 which forbid them for Any, especially in media advertising during the games. Especially by the scale of digital influence web comments had more attendants that average Olympic cultural event, because of the spread of mobile Internet and smartphones.

Some other examples even as far as opening of Brecqhou island, at least first time from 1990s may be cited as partial influence of Olympics.


2012 Cultural Olympiad Wikipedia

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