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Update on London 2012 and Cultural Olympiad: East and South East

  • Date: 21 December 2011
  • Area: South East
man rings a bell outside a cathedral

Aldeburgh Young Musician, viola player Samuel Espinosa Ruiz rings a bell at Peterborough Cathedral to mark the announcement of Martin Creed’s UK-wide bell-ringing project All the bell. Credit: Ben Davis

As 2011 draws to a close we are looking forward to the events and projects happening across the East and South East in the New Year as part of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This year has seen the final push for Inspire Mark projects, whose application process has now closed, the programme for the London 2012 Festival launched, and 8,000 Olympic and Paralympic Flame torchbearers announced. 

Here we take a look at progress on key projects across the South East and East of England, which all present opportunities for you to get involved in 2012.

London 2012 Festival

On 4 November 2011, cities across the country joined in the celebrations to help London 2012 launch the programme for the London 2012 Festival. This is a spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, opening on Midsummer's Day 21 June and running until 9 September 2012.

Liz Hughes, Creative Programmer for East of England, London 2012 said: 'The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games. Its four year programme has involved young people and communities around the UK in a wide range of cultural activity in the run up to the Games.

'As we approach 2012 we look forward to an extraordinary final few months of the Olympiad, culminating with finale of the London 2012 Festival. Whether it is ringing a bell for Martin Creed or going Walking in Norfolk with Robert Wilson there are some truly once in a lifetime things to experience next year.'

In the South East, our most exciting visual arts regularly funded organisations are taking part in the London 2012 Festival, including Tracey Emin's first major exhibition at Turner Contemporary, She Lay Down Deep Beneath the Sea from 26 May 2012 and Richard Wilson's The Italian Job homage sculpture Hang On A Minute Lads, I've Got A Great Idea on De La Warr Pavilion rooftop.

Blenheim Palace will host British artist Paul Cummins' 15,000 individually hand-thrown ceramic blooms in The English Flower Garden. The work is part of Unlimited, a Cultural Olympiad programme celebrating arts and culture by disabled and deaf artists, and is supported with a £40,000 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award.

Chichester Festival Theatre presents two Alan Ayckbourn plays, in collaboration with Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. dreamthinkspeak will premiere The Rest Is Silence, an ambitious deconstruction of Hamlet, at the Brighton Festival as part of The World Shakespeare Festival. Award-winning Irish company Druid's DruidMurphy will premiere at Oxford Playhouse on 18 August 2012.

Those based in the East of England will be spoilt for choice when deciding what to see as part of the London 2012 Festival. On 20 and 22 July, Aldeburgh World Orchestra will perform their inaugural concerts at Snape Maltings. On 29 July, the musicians will perform a Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. Aldeburgh World Orchestra is a project led by Aldeburgh Music with renowned composer Sir Mark Elder, bringing together 100 gifted young musicians (aged 18-28 years) from across the globe to create a true 'world orchestra'.

The UK Centre for Carnival Arts Carnival Crossroads East Bound project is bringing together the East of England's carnival artists, community groups and schools to create a carnival showcase of our history and celebrating local pride for Festival 2012. The project will culminate Sunday 8 July in an extravaganza parade, bringing together 500 people from across the East of England to perform in Luton's International Carnival.

In Ipswich, New Wolsey Theatre will host the Open Stage elements of the RSC World Shakespeare Festival in the week commencing 9 July.

The London 2012 Festival also includes a number of high profile national initiatives that will see a wealth of activity and opportunities to take part in the regions such as Music Nation, Big Dance and The Summer 2012 Reading Challenge.

Olympic Flame Torch Relay

From 19 May 2012 to 27 July 2012, more than 8,000 inspirational people will carry the Olympic Flame as it journeys across the UK during the torch relay. It starts at Land's End and ends at the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium.

The torchbearers were chosen out of tens of thousands of nominations made during 2011 to London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) and were selected for their contributions to society. Nominees include a 20-year-old Tonbridge man who survived a rare form of bone cancer and set up a charity to help others and a 21-year-old young person activist from Harlow, Essex.

The torch will be carried for 70 days through over 1,000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, coming within 10 miles of 95% of where people live people.

The Olympic Flame will travel through the East from 3 to 9 July, starting in Petersborough, then Norwich, Ipswich, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Luton and ending in Dunstable.

The torch will then move on to the South East: from 9 to 20 July, the torch will travel to Milton Keynes, Stoke Mandeville, Oxford, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton & Hove, Hastings, Dover, Margate, Maidstone and Guildford.

For a detailed list of all of the stops in between, go to the London 2012 website.

Inspire marked projects in the East and South East

Arts Council England is supporting more than 25 special events in the East and South East, which are part of London 2012's Cultural Olympiad Inspire Programme. The Inspire Programme aims to recognise non-commercial organisations delivering projects and events genuinely inspired by the London 2012 Games, giving millions the opportunity to participate during 2012. Applications to the Inspire Programme closed on 1 December 2011.

From Wales to the East of England, from the South West to Yorkshire and Humber - more than 2,000 projects and events have been awarded the coveted Inspire Mark for their work in one of six areas: sustainability, education, volunteering, business, sport or culture.

The South East has 69 licensed Cultural Olympiad Inspire Marks - out of these, 25 are supported with Arts Council funding. The East has 59 confirmed Inspire Marked projects, with more to be announced in the New Year.

Inspire Mark projects in 2012 confirmed in the South East include The Tree of Light, which is currently running workshops about the importance of trees and the role they play in saving our planet with thousands of children and adults. Their responses will feed into the creation of five extraordinary public arts performances along the River Thames. 2012 will also see new further collaborations from higher education institute consortium Creative Campus Initiative. The consortium is made up of 13 universities who together have already showcased 102 inspirational cultural events in response to London 2012, connecting the arts and sports in novel ways.

Caterina Loriggio, Creative Programme for the South East, London 2012 says: '2011 has been a tremendously busy but rewarding year. We hope to have 100 Inspire projects at the heart of our South East and East programmes. Although Inspire is now closed and there will be no Open Weekend in 2012, there will be plenty of opportunities to join in through the new Local Leaders scheme, Torch Relays and nationwide festival programmes such as All the Bells and a supercharged Summer Reading Challenge .'

Look out for the new programme of Inspire Mark activity to be launched in the New Year.