Placing culture at the heart of the Games : key achievements and challenges within the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad / Beatriz Garcia

Garcia, Beatriz

Edited by University of Liverpool. Liverpool - 2013

Putting ‘culture at the heart of the Games’ was a feature of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s strategy since the bid stage and was widely considered to have been a distinct dimension of London’s 2012 unique offer. When the Cultural Olympiad launched in 2008 and, again, within its culmination as a 12-week London 2012 Festival in 2012, the centrality of culture to the Games was consistently emphasised. While many other host cities have aspired to achieve synergy between culture, sport and education, success in this area has eluded most previous Games. Ongoing challenges with branding and marketing regulations, budget commitments, and the publicity priorities of core Games stakeholders, all frustrate achievement in this aspect of the hosting process, making culture one of the most difficult things to get right within an Olympic and Paralympic programme. This paper articulates the support for London’s claim to have fulfilled this vision, while also indicating the challenges the host city’s stakeholders faced in putting culture at the heart of the Games. It addresses three main questions: 1) How was the aspiration to place culture at the heart of the games delivered and did it succeed? 2) Did the public acknowledge the achievements of the Games cultural programme? 3) Did the UK cultural sector value the existence of a Games cultural programme?

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