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Cultural Olympiad comes to an end in the East

  • Date: 17 October 2012
  • Area: South East
Man and woman

On Landguard Point, 2012. Credit: Christa Holka

The closing ceremony of the Paralympics in early September signalled the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but it also concluded the Cultural Olympiad programme in the East which has been running for the past four years. 

More than 18 million people all over the UK have taken part or attended over 9,000 performances and 8,000 workshops. In the East, over the four years of the Cultural Olympiad, 2.5 million people got involved in 101 projects, which created 4,895 activities (events, performances and exhibition days). In total the programme was worth over £10.7 million, including investment of over £4.5 million from Arts Council England and £1.5 million from Legacy Trust UK.

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad was the largest celebration of art and culture that the UK has ever seen. It gave people the chance to be part of one of the biggest projects in the world and coincided with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games itself. It helped inspire creativity across all forms of culture.

Years of preparation had been put in to showcase the culture of the East in venues across the region ranging from a wide variety of performances - there was simply something for everyone.

The Cultural Olympiad programme brought artists from six continents of the world to the East and thousands of local people got involved across the region. The ambitious programme reached every part of the East of England and ranged in scale from events in back gardens to the transformation of three miles of coastline.

The London 2012 Festival, which ran for twelve weeks between June and September, finished with the national Bandstand Marathon with over 200 events taking part across the UK, of which 25 were located in the East.

Highlights of London 2012 Festival across the East of England included:

The Aldeburgh World Orchestra, which brought together 121 aspiring young musicians from 35 countries working under the acclaimed British conductor, Sir Mark Elder.

Norfolk & Norwich Festival provided us with two of the highlight projects of the Cultural Olympiad: How Like an Angel, spearheaded by Circa's unique brand of contemporary music to the sound of I Fagiolini's singing, exhilarated audiences as they watched acrobatics and singers perform at two of the finest cathedrals in the East - Norwich Cathedral and Ely Cathedral. Their other project saw Visionary American artist Robert Wilson created a series of sculptural and sound installations punctuating a three-mile path on the north Norfolk coast with Walking, enjoyed by more than 2,500 people.

Eastern Exchanges celebrated the culture of the Far East with a number of exhibitions across the East - including Cambridge and Colchester - unlocking the stories of China, India and Pakistan as part of Stories of the World.

Robert Pacitti's film, On Landguard Point, was the centrepiece of the celebratory culmination in the East with a sixth screening at the Cambridge Arts Picture House. Suffolk-raised artist Robert Pacitti developed a series of large-scale, public outdoor events exploring notions of 'home' and the film was one of twelve funded arts commissions as part of the Arts Council's 'Artists taking the lead' project.

Liz Hughes, Creative Programmer for London 2012 in the East, said: "The London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad brought artists from six continents to the East of England. It gave our cultural organisations the opportunity to deliver extraordinary and ambitious projects and provided people in the East with unprecedented opportunities to join in and to be part of something global. We also saw the Olympiad as an opportunity for organisations and individuals to build capacity and skills that they can draw on as they plan for the future."

You can find more information on the Legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London 2012 Festival and Cultural Olympiad on our website by clicking here.