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The London 2012 Games mark 100 years since the first official commitment to presenting cultural and artistic activity alongside sport as a core dimension of the Olympic hosting process. This centenary provides a moment to reflect on what culture and the arts have brought to the Olympic Games. From avant-garde film-making to graphic design innovations, new approaches to public art and innovative ways of engaging with open spaces, past Olympic cultural programmes have made their mark within the practices of artistic communities. However, little is known of these positive experiences and their direct beneficiaries have tended to be a select few. This is because, for most of the 20th century, the Olympic cultural programme was viewed as an opportunity to showcase excellence using a narrow conception of the 'arts'. As the Games have evolved into a global media event attracting massive audiences worldwide, such a premise has become less relevant to the average Olympic audience. This article discusses the distinct advances made in the context of London 2012, in order to make its four-year Cultural Olympiad the most accessible, youth-oriented, innovative and outreaching Olympic cultural programme to date.London placed a strong emphasis on its cultural and creative narrative from the bid stage, building on its reputation as a creative city and a world-leading centre for the cultural and creative industries. Its bid for the 2012 Games placed particular emphasis on using the Cultural Olympiad to reach out to the whole of the UK. Presenting a national Olympic cultural programme is not a new ambition, although most editions of the Games have struggled to make their programme nationally relevant and appreciated by cultural experts as well as the public. This is due to a lack of media appeal, conflicting sponsorship and branding regulations, and the difficulty of balancing the sports and arts agenda priorities of key stakeholders. In order to face these challenges, London established a parallel delivery and promotional structure for culture: from the creation of 13 creative programmer posts based in every UK region, to the establishment of an alternative 'mark' for non-commercial Games-related cultural activity: 'Inspired by 2012'. These innovations are at the heart of what is distinct about London's Cultural Olympiad and serve as an example for future Games.A UK-WIDE CULTURAL DELIVERY STRUCTUREFollowing a tradition started with the Barcelona 1992 Games, London has presented its Cultural Olympiad over four years. The London 2012 Creative Programmers were appointed in 2008 and have been in positions all over the ? Left The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest and most diverse cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic MovementSTRIKING A CHORDLONDON 2012 HAS CREATED A NEW MODEL FOR NATIONWIDE OLYMPIC CULTURAL LEGACY. HERE, DR BEATRIZ GARC√ćA INVESTIGATES WHAT HAS MADE THE LONDON 2012 CULTURAL OLYMPIAD AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOWOLYMPIC REVIEW 63OLYMPIC RESEARCH CORNER

UK since, offering a rare opportunity for the continuity of a cultural vision throughout the Olympiad. Arts Council England and its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have funded these positions, which have acted as a parallel coordination structure, liaising with, but not dependent on, the Organising Committee. This has provided much needed flexibility for locally-sensitive cultural programming, which previous Games have found difficult to manage within a centralised and Games-time oriented OCOG structure.In order to encourage new Games-related cultural programming and make it as inclusive and widely owned as possible, London stakeholders also agreed to create a parallel funding structure. The Legacy Trust UK was launched in 2008 and has become one of the three principal Cultural Olympiad funders, committing GBP 40 million towards four national programmes and 12 regional programmes which were asked to develop a strategy for sustainability after the Games. This is the first time that such an emphasis has been placed on the sustainability of the Games cultural programme, an approach that is consistent with the decision to appoint a Legacy Steering Committee for the Olympiad, and to fund a Cultural Olympiad Legacy evaluation programme. The commitment to a nationwide delivery structure has resulted in a range of key achievements. Firstly, the creation of a network of dedicated cultural operators with a common timeline and objectives has strengthened inter-regional relationships across the country and encouraged new ways of working. Most importantly, it has established a locally-trusted contact point for Games-related cultural activity, so that every region has had the same degree of opportunity to 'own' the Games.Secondly, the existence of a joint network, dedicated funding structure and distinct visual identity has made it easier to push the distinct themes and ambitions emerging out of the London 2012 Games vision into every corner of the country: from an emphasis on programming for youth; to highlighting the achievements of the disabled art movement (as part of strong Olympic and Paralympic activity synergies); new ways of exploring synergies between art, sport and health; as well as encouraging innovative approaches to exploring the Olympic Movement ideals, in ways that feel relevant to today's UK audiences. Furthermore, a nationwide social media project called #media2012 is uniting educators and artists to create opportunities to act as journalists covering the cultural dimensions of the Games, with an emphasis on its universal values. Ultimately, the creation of a sustained national network has also provided a more effective framework to channel regional activity into the London 2012 Games core narrative and to potentially become part of the 2012 Games long-term iconic imagery. It has also facilitated more sensitive synergies with other established Olympic programmes such as the Torch Relay and the LiveSites, which, under the banner of the London 2012 Festival, will highlight and showcase a greater range of Cultural Olympiad activity than has been the case in previous Games.GAMES-TIME CULTURE: THE LONDON 2012 FESTIVALThe work of the Creative Programmers and the Legacy Trust UK has been essential to ensure UK-wide involvement and expand opportunities for diverse and community-led contributions. In order for the Cultural Olympiad to reach out to the world, however, it is equally important to maximise media visibility and demonstrate excellence and scale comparable to the sporting competitions in the host city during Games time. This has been the core motivation behind the London 2012 Festival, presented as the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. Contrasting with the wide scope of activity presented up to the end of 2011, the 2012 Festival has been curated by a sole artistic director, Ruth Mackenzie, focusing on the notion of world-class excellence, and placing an emphasis on scale, international significance and 'once-in-a lifetime' experiences. The Festival lasts from June to September 2012, bridging the final leg of the Torch Relay, the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. It will be launched across the country but the heart of the programme is focused on London during the Games-time period. In order to ensure maximum visibility for Olympic fans, specially-commissioned films will be showcased via Live Site screens across the city. Mackenzie has noted that her ambition is to encourage Right Projects such as Big Dance 2012 and Candoco Unlimited (below) are creating new ways to connect art and physical activity64 OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC RESEARCH CORNER