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Open Weekend events celebrate one year to go to the Games in the East and South East

  • Date: 22 August 2011
  • Artform: None
  • Area: South East
SPUN preview image featuring dancers: Lucy Bennett, Sophie Brown, David Willdridge and Laura Jones SPUN preview image featuring dancers: Lucy Bennett, Sophie Brown, David Willdridge and Laura Jones, Photography by Chris Parkes

Artists and arts organisations across the East and South East celebrated ‘one year to go’ to the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer during the fourth and final Open Weekend event.

Open Weekend is just one way that people across the UK have been able to get involved in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad - the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, the Olympiad has been designed to give everyone in Britain a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

Principal funders of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad are Arts Council England, the Olympic Lottery Distributor and the Legacy Trust UK. Commercial partners include BP, BT and Panasonic.

A huge variety of sporting, arts and cultural celebrations took place across the UK from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 July 2011 as part of Open Weekend 2011, with more than 180 events in the East and 141 events in the South East happening across the Area.

More than 50,000 people in the East and in the South East attended the events, which ranged from carnivals to bunting workshops – all offering local residents the chance to try something new and join in the community spirit.

Cat Lorrigio, London 2012 Creative Programmer for the South East says: ‘Open Weekend has been a great success in the South East over the past four years. We estimate at least 1 million people have attended events. Open Weekend 2011 really captured the spirit all the hard work that has been happening over the region in the run up to the Games with opportunities to try new activities, new sports or get involved with the local community as we marked one year to Games time.

‘There is no Open Weekend in 2012 but we hope that everyone will steer their creativity and enthusiasm towards ensuring that the South East has the most fantastic and participative Torch Relay.’ 

South East

Dyslexic Portsmouth artist Jon Adams led a nation-wide public realm installation, which saw thousands of flags were planted as part of Dysarticulate. Spread across 13 satellite events, Jon persuaded artists and disabled people across the UK to create tens of thousands of flags recycled from book pages and plant them simultaneously in their localities to create a unique but temporary public artwork. Jon’s aim was to draw attention to the difficulties dyslexic people have coping with the written word.

The New Forest was populated with pantomime horses created by young people at Hampshire visual arts centre ArtSway, an Arts Council England regularly funded organisation in Show Pony Parade. On Saturday 23 July, participants created their own pony costumes to wear and parade for a performance in the New Forest.

In West Sussex, seven emerging outdoor arts producers managed Dromos Festival, a new travelling “street arts” festival that brought music, theatre, dance, comedy and sculpture to Coombes Farm near Lancing on Sunday 24 July. The artists performed inside tents, cars and caravans, as well as outdoors. Dromos Festival is supported with a £9,750 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award.

In Woking town centre, nationally acclaimed integrated dance company and Arts Council England regularly funded organisation StopGAP premiered their Cultural Olympiad commission, SPUN Productions as part of Woking Summer Shorts.

SPUN Productions depicts the fictional world of a celebrity wannabe, showing the highs and lows of stardom, and taking the audience through a journey of self re-invention. The piece was commissioned as part of the south east Legacy Trust programme, Accentuate.

Woking Summer Shorts saw hundreds of dancers took over Woking town centre on Saturday 23 July, including professional dance companies, local dance artists and community dance groups. The event was part of the London 2012 Inspire programme.


In Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire, more than 4,000 people attended a One Year and Counting day, enjoying six hours of music, entertainment and demonstrations. Olympians David Florence and Jeanette Kwayke went along to talk to the crowds and there Harry Potter star, Rupert Grint aka Ron Weasley, added a touch of magic to the day when he came along to watch his sister perform.

Arts Council England regularly funded organisation Metal hosted End of Term in Southend: a free one-day festival of 'creative chaos and gentle anarchy' to celebrate the summer holidays as part of the 2012 Open Weekend programme.The event involved games, art installations, spoken word performances, street dance, drumming sessions, zumba, tea dances among many other activities. There was also the chance to try your hand at sporting activities including fencing, cycling, football and sitting volleyball.

In Cambridge, the Fitzwilliam Museum celebrated Open Weekend with Talking Treasures, a day of storytelling and gallery talks revealing the stories behind some of the most fascinating objects in the museum. Visitors were also invited to take part in a caption competition, follow themed trails and a riddle tour of artworks. There were also story-making kits, workshops decorating books and a chance for people to bring in their own treasures to think about the stories behind them. The day formed part of Stories of the World: Eastern Exchanges, one of the projects at the heart of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and a partnership between the Fitzwilliam and other Cambridge museums including Scott Polar Museum.