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Global Rainbow calls upon the people of the North West to put their hands up for London 2012

  • Date: 7 March 2012
  • Area: North
Laser projected rainbow across night sky

Global Rainbow, Whitley Bay, 2012. Artist: Yvette Mattern.. Credit: Mark Pinder

Global Rainbow is being projected from Preston across the region and beyond for four nights from 8 March to open the year's London 2012 cultural celebrations in the North West.

Global Rainbow is launching WE PLAY Challenge - the North West's call to the region's public to get involved in London 2012 and to leave a lasting legacy of their own by taking part in a journey inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A journey which starts and finishes in Preston - opening with the WE PLAY Challenge and closing with WE PLAY Expo, the North West's finale event for London 2012, from 7-9 September.

Kicking off with Global Rainbow, hundreds of exciting events and activities are taking place across the North West from March until September 2012. To find an event near you and to sign up to the WE PLAY Challenge, visit

Global Rainbow is a spectacular outdoor artwork created by New York and Berlin based artist Yvette Mattern. With the installation, the artist intends to symbolise hope and to encompass geographical and social diversity in its reach.

Global Rainbow consists of seven parallel beams of high specification laser light, representing the spectrum of the seven colours of the rainbow, and is designed to be projected across large open sites, particularly densely populated areas, and to be visible for up to 20 kilometres. Global Rainbow is visible in the North West on the evenings of Thursday 8 March, Friday 9 March, Saturday 10 March and Sunday 11 March.

Debbi Lander, the 2012 Creative Programmer for the North West, said: "London 2012 is not just about sport or spectatorship. It's an opportunity to connect, to collaborate and be part of a community; and to celebrate the world's largest global gathering on earth. This is our chance to reach out and feel part of something bigger and to use London 2012 as a platform to create interaction and community across the North West."

The WE PLAY Challenge provides a social space for people in the North West who are interested in having the expanded London 2012 experience and it enables them to contribute to the track record and history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As a participant in the Challenge, the public will be able to claim points for every event they attend and to share their experiences with other people. As part of the online sign-up process to the Challenge, people are invited to submit a photo of their handprint - which will become part of an innovative, living piece of art, titled Handprint, which invites interaction and will be on display at WE PLAY Expo in Preston.

WE PLAY Expo, the North West's closing celebration for London 2012, takes place in Preston from 7-9 September - the final weekend of the Paralympic Games - and forms part of the Preston Guild festival which occurs once every 20 years and, dating back to 1179, is England's oldest festival.

WE PLAY is the North West's cultural legacy programme for the Cultural Olympiad and is funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.

Speaking about WE PLAY, Moira Swinbank, the Chief Executive of Legacy Trust UK, said: "Since 2008 WE PLAY has been creating a lasting cultural legacy across the North West of England, through the fantastic projects Lakes Alive, Blaze and Abandon Normal Devices. We are proud to be the major funders of this fantastic programme and are delighted that the WE PLAY Challenge will encourage even more people to get involved in celebrating London 2012 at a local level. Global Rainbow will be a spectacular start to an amazing summer for everyone in the North West."

WE PLAY showcases excellence in outdoor arts, digital innovation and young producers through three annual regional programmes over four years. These annual programmes - Abandon Normal Devices, Lakes Alive and Blaze - culminate their four-year endeavour for 2012 at the Expo. They will present ambitious, large-scale productions alongside other Cultural Olympiad activity and special events including the presentation of Handprint and another WE PLAY Expo new commission, Why We Play, which is a documentary by North West filmmaker Mike Todd.

Commenting on presenting Global Rainbow in the UK, its artist Yvette Mattern said: "It is an honour to present Global Rainbow as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme. Global Rainbow is a monumental artwork in scale and reach and its invitation to England during this Olympiad year is epic."

Sarah Maxfield, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: 'Global Rainbow is the perfect way to launch WE PLAY Challenge and to mark the beginning of the year's cultural celebrations of the Olympics and Paralympic Games in the North West. This is just the start of a really exciting programme of events across the region that provide great opportunities for everyone to get involved and to feel part of London 2012."

Global Rainbow is produced by amino (a contemporary arts production agency based in Newcastle upon Tyne) with support from Arts Council England through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme and is co-presented in the North West by WE PLAY and Preston Guild 2012. After its appearance in the North West, Global Rainbow heads to Northern Ireland where it can be seen over the Ards Peninsula from 14-17 March.

To find out how you can take part in London 2012 and to sign up to the WE PLAY Challenge in the North West visit