Get set for cultural Olympics

The launch of the Cultural Olympiad this weekend looks set to open up a raft of opportunities – from participation to delivery – for designers across the UK.

Details of the four-year programme, intended as a showcase of British arts and culture planned to run alongside the 2012 Olympic Games, have this morning been revealed by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

Locog chairman Sebastian Coe, Locog chairman culture, ceremonies and education Jude Kelly and Locog director of culture, ceremonies and education Bill Morris envisage design playing a major role in the Cultural Olympiad programme, though specifics on how designers will be involved are still under review.

‘We’re looking at how to engage the creative industries in the Cultural Olympiad in general at the moment, and design will play a great role. It will vary with each project how much design will have to play a part, particularly projects with a strong visual arts elements. It’s highly possible that designers will be commissioned to create work as well as visual artists,’ says Morris.

Morris explains that in terms of marketing and promotion, Cultural Olympiad projects will use the 2012 branding, created by Wolff Olins.

‘I was delighted we went for a bold logo – we are not afraid of radical design,’ says Morris.

‘The famous logo has bedded in very nicely, and so far the London 2012 has produced a large swell of creative thought,’ adds Coe.

The main Cultural Olympiad projects taking place over the next four years will be:

  • Artists Taking the Lead – 12 cutting-edge artists’ commissions across the UK
  • Stories of the World – a national network of exhibitions telling new stories in new ways
  • Sounds – a four-project approach to celebrating music as a universal language
  • Somewhereto – a project empowering young people to find somewhere to practice their sport and culture on their terms
  • Discovering Places – opening up the historic and built environment to new audiences
  • Film Nation – a programme designed to get young people behind the camera and explore their world and dreams
  • World Shakespeare Festival – celebrating Shakespeare as an international property and the British as an international people centering on exchange and collaboration
  • Festival of Carnivals – five linked and themed street carnivals in the Olympic period
  • Unlimited – a world celebration of disability arts, culture and sport
  • World Cultural Festival – an international arts festival as the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012


The Cultural Olympiad is a partnership between Locog for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, arts and cultural organisations across the UK, and stakeholders in London 2012.

A ‘creative programmer’ will curate a programme of activities in each UK region.

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