On the Cultural Olympiad

Saturday 15th August 2009

Arts Council England
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What is the point of the Cultural Olympiad? Yesterday, the great and good were lining up to sing the praises of the cultural events that are planned for 2012. According to Pirate Dog, an olympic effort is being made to bring culture to the masses — whether they want it or not. But is any of it art? So far, the projects that look set to get money seem to be carnivals, festivals or beehives… (Yes, the Sultan’s Elephant, which so impressed the Arts Council in 2006, has a lot to answer for.) None of this fills me with any pleasurable anticipation; in fact, it all looks like white elephant (sorry). As arts funding for real theatre and real arts projects looks set to be squeezed in the upcoming years, the thought of wasting even £500,000 on events for which there seems to be little public enthusiasm and zero cultural cred is a dismal one indeed. Is it too late for either the Arts Council or the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw to see sense? Any self-respecting artist will steer clear of the whole disaster.

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