Olympic Cities of Culture

The CC:RO has documented the evolution of the official Olympic Games cultural programme since it was launched in 1912, and Olympic Movement cultural policy frameworks since their first establishment in 1906. Fieldwork has been conducted in situ at Olympic Games editions since 1992. This work has taken place in collaboration with the Olympic Studies Centre (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona) and the Centre for Olympic Studies (University of New South Wales). The work has been possible thanks to the support of the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (University of Glasgow), the University of Liverpool and the Institute of Cultural Capital; and thanks to residencies at University of Technology, Sydney; the International Olympic Academy at Ancient Olympia, and the Olympic Studies Centre at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne. The research has been funded by the British Academy, the Newton Fund, the Universities China Committee, Arts Council England, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee.

Find below an overview of the main Olympic Cities of Culture projects stored within the Observatory.
A broader range of stories is published via the specialist magazine Culture @ the Olympics

Comparative Olympic city and global cultural policy studies

Olympic city research

Tokyo 2020

  • Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad (2016 onwards) This project started with observations at the launch of the four year Cultural Olympiad programme and evolved into 2019, with final preparations towards the Olympic year. With the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games in to 2021, the research opens new questions as to the capacity for Olympic cultural programmes to retain relevance, be used during the interim period or risk being placed in the back burner.
  • See: A series of essays responding to the postponement announcement in 2020.
  • See all Tokyo 2020 stories

PyeongChang 2018

Rio 2016

  • Brand image of Brazil in the wake of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (2016-2017) – Project funded by a British Academy Newton Fund, involving a collaboration with the University of Sao Paulo, as well as inception funding from Brazilian communication agency Aberje. This research has enabled detailed analysis of national and international narratives of Brazil and its two main urban hubs, Rio and Sao Paulo, as centres for creativity and artistic innovation. The research asks the question: have the Olympic and Paralympic Games contributed (or hindered) the portrait of Brazil as a creative nation?
  • See all Rio 2016 Stories

London 2012

  • London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Legacy Evaluation (2011-2013) – Research commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad Steering Group, involving the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Arts Council England, Department Media Culture and Sport, Legacy Trust UK. The research looks into the cultural, social and related economic legacies of hosting this programme and the associated London 2012 Festival.
  • London 2012 Knowledge Transfer (2011-2012) Research coordinated by Dr Vassil Girginov with funding from Podium, the Further & Higher Education Unit for the London 2012 Games. Beatriz’ contribution is focused on the analysis of the bidding, delivery and legacy framework for the Cultural Olympiad and has resulted in a chapter contribution within a two part monograph, published by Routledge.
  • See all London 212 stories

Beijing 2008

  • Cultural programming at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (2008 ) Research funded by the Universities’ China Committee in London. This project involved working as an embedded journalist within the Non-Accredited Media Centre at the Beijing Games and field observations of the various 2008 Olympic Arts Festivals and fringe cultural activities in the city during Games time.

Sydney 2000

  • Analysis of the programming, management and promotion of the Sydney 1997-2000 Olympic Arts Festivals (1999-2002) – Research supported by a Mobility Grant by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), an Olympic Research Grant by the Olympic Studies Centre at the UAB, and grants by the International Olympic Academy and the Olympic Museum –International Olympic Committee. The research results have published as The Olympic Games and Cultural Policy (2012).

Sochi 2014

European Capitals of Culture

The CC:RO has documented the experience of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) hosts since the initiative’s launch in 1985. Research frameworks have been devised and data has been gathered from 60 host cities in 30 European countries between 1985 and the present. This work has taken place within the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (University of Glasgow), the Impacts 08 research team at the University of Liverpool, the Institute of Cultural Capital at the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, and in collaboration with researchers and research units across European universities. The research has been funded by UK Research Council grants (Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Resarch Council), as well as the support of the European Parliament and the Creative Europe Programme by the European Commission.

Find below an overview of the main European Capital of Culture projects the Observatory stores:

  • European Capitals of Culture: Success Strategies and Long-Term Effects (2013) This study, funded by the European Parliament, assesses the long-term effects of hosting the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) programme since its inception in 1985, and discusses the organisational and policy implications of these findings. Over 60 cities in 30 European countries were surveyed by a team based at the Institute of Cultural Capital in collaboration with international colleagues.
  • Impacts 08 – European Capital of Culture Research Programme (2005-2010). Longitudinal research programme into the cultural, social, economic and environmental impacts of Liverpool’s becoming 2008 European Capital of Culture. The programme was commissioned by Liverpool City Council and was jointly developed by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. It is the most extensive research programme ever conducted on an ECoC and its final report is a key referent accross Europe. [Final Report]  [Programme website]
  • European Capitals of Culture Policy Group (2009-2010). International network of researchers and programmers of the European Capital of Culture initiative working on a common framework for ECoC assessment and delivery. The network was funded by the Creative Europe programme and led to a series of workshops, led by Liverpool and the Impacts 08 research programme, with the collaboration of teams from Stavanger, Marseille, Turku, the Rhur and Kosice. [Network blog] [Final report]
  • Cultural Sustainability? Liverpool in 2008 – (2007-2010) AHRC and ESRC Impact Fellowship to study the cultural policy implications of hosting the 2008 European Capital of Culture in Liverpool. This research, conducted within the University of Liverpool in partnership with the Impacts 08 team, evidences the symbolic impact of the ECoC on people’s sense of place.
  • Understanding the Long-term Legacies of Glasgow 1990, European City of Culture (2002- 2005) Research conducted within the Centre for Cultural Policy Research  at the University of Glasgow. This four-year research programme assessed the long term cultural impacts and legacies of hosting the title. It established innovative methodologies for narrative analysis to capture Glasgow’s image renaissance post 1990, and it was the first study to follow up the City Image and Cultural Governance impacts of a European Capital of Culture, ten years on.
  • Impacts 18 – European Capital of Culture Legacies, 10 years on (2016-2019) Conducted within the Institute of Cultural Capital, this project captures the long-term effects of hosting an ECoC in Liverpool, a decade after 2008. The programme revisits all thematic impact clusters assessed by its predecessor programme, Impacts 08City image; Cultural participation; Cultural vibrancy, Economic development and Cultural governance This is the first time a city fully replicates a multiple impact study to document legacies more than a decade onwards.

Report citation and project access:

Garcia, B. , Cox, T. (2013) European Capitals of Culture: Success Strategies and Long-Term Effects  Brussels: European Parliament

Report citation and project access:

Garcia, B., Melville, R. and Cox, T. (2010) Creating an Impact – Liverpool’s experience as European Capital of Culture. Liverpool: University of Liverpool


Report citation and project access:

Garcia et al (2010) An International Framework of Good Practice in research and delivery of the European Capital of Culture Programme. Brussels: European Commission