On the Cultural Olympiad

Thursday 29th October 2009

Arts Council England
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The Arts Council has recently announced the 12 commissions, worth £5.4m, that have been selected for Artists Taking the Lead, one of the opening schemes for the Cultural Olympiad. Ever since the Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall became the new chair this summer, hope have soared that he would be more sensible than his predecessor, Southbank artistic director Jude Kelly. No need to worry — he is just as bad as the rest. It’s always a bit too easy to shoot sitting ducks but I’m in a bad mood so here goes my trigger finger. Shauna Richardson, representing the East Midlands, will create the Lionheart installation, exploring the values that big cats and the Olympics share by making crocheted wool lions 10m tall. Look, I like the idea of crocheted lions, but is this really Olympic quality art? Scotland’s Craig Coulthard will create Forest Pitch, a football pitch within a forest by felling the trees, and, after one match is played, the forest can grow back. This must be what they mean by “legacy”. Then there is a water mill, some art created by the public (like that ever-so-exciting fourth plinth, yawn) and a film from the Pacitti Company. So, and lots of other outdoor stuff, none of it very artistic. I suppose it serves us right — we did let the Arts Council lead the project.

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