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

What Future for Festivals? Report

“We need festivals – now more than ever!” declares Salzburg Global report on the current state and what comes next for the beleaguered sector, post-pandemic

 

Find here access to the Final Report of the 2020 Salzburg Global Seminar , co-curated by our Director, Dr Beatriz Garcia, and dedicated to exploring the question: ‘What Future for Festivals’?


One hundred years ago at Schloss Leopoldskron, Max Reinhardt, Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal founded the world-renowned Salzburg Festival as a “Festival of Peace” to transform “the whole town into one stage.” To celebrate this centenary Salzburg Global Seminar originally scheduled the program What Future for Festivals? for March 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was postponed to October and subsequently moved online due to continuing travel restrictions and health regulations.

Little did we know while developing the session in 2019, just how compelling and urgent the question at the center of our program – what future for festivals? – would be. Few sectors have been hit as hard by the pandemic as the cultural sector, with festivals being particularly vulnerable to the fallout from the compounded global crises – not just COVID-19, but also the climate crisis, and worldwide social and economic upheaval.

We know that festivals of all types and sizes have energized communities since time immemorial. Rooted in rituals, stories and faiths, they have embodied local and indigenous cultures and celebrated deep bonds to nature, land and the seasons. Modern festivals range from intimate experiments to gigantic mega-events, showcasing ever more diverse creative practices, from the performing, visual, and traditional arts to photography, film, literature, street arts, food, light, design and ideas-based, future-focused, eco-inspired events.

Whatever their intended focus – creative innovation, activism, city branding, wellbeing, community building, pure entertainment – festivals have always spoken to fundamental human needs. They have allowed us to share in a density and intensity experience, revel in specialness beyond day-to-day routines, and join – as the German word “Festspiele” infers – in “celebration and play.”

What Future for Festivals? Salzburg Global Seminar

What is the future of festivals as we look ahead to continuing travel constraints, unpredictable limitations on public events, and looming economic crises? And, even with COVID-19 vaccines now forthcoming in some parts of the world, how will both the festival landscape and festival goers themselves have changed in the interim? How will festivals adapt and cope with these altered circumstances? These and many other questions were at the center of our online discussions in October and November 2020.

This report and the accompanying series of thought-pieces authored by several program participants share reflections on the past year and insights on the challenging path ahead for festivals. While we identified even more questions than answers during our conversations, one thing is certain: we need festivals now more than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief that festivals are not just “nice to have” – we must have them to thrive and not just survive.

Human beings need to gather, to celebrate, they need their spirits to soar, to witness artistic genius, to feel chills and goosebumps run down their spines, to revel in the thrill of live performance and shared experience, to clap and be applauded, to amaze and be amazed, to laugh, shout, and be joyful together.

Without such experiences we may function, but we will not be truly alive.

What Future for Festivals? Salzburg Global Seminar

When the Games can’t go on

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed. It is only the fourth time this happens in 124 years, the only three previous occasions being due to World War I and World War II.

The global virus pandemic of 2020 is forcing a halt on all international sport and cultural mega-events and this raises meaningful questions regarding the significance of such large celebrations and the extent to which it is essential or not to see them happen.

In this collection of articles and short film, Dr Beatriz Garcia discusses the importance of finding creative ways of sharing stories about major events and what makes them meaningful. Beatriz argues in favour of artists – as distinct from marketing and communication teams – playing a leading role to tell such stories while on lockdown.


Reflections from Beatriz Garcia

the main test of value for mega-events is their capacity to act as platforms for storytelling that inspire communities worldwide.

As I have argued for the last 20 years, the main test of value for mega-events is their capacity to act as platforms for storytelling that inspire communities worldwide. In this sense, far from seeing current cancellations and postponements as a route into oblivion, organisers should find alternative ways of sharing what it has taken them to prepare for their event and the reasons why hundreds of thousands of people are not just financially but emotionally invested in such grand occasions.

The Tokyo Games organisers were starting their story-telling on the 12 March, with the initiation of their torch relay, which was lit in Ancient Olympia and promoted through pre-recorded promotional films of open air runners and cheering crowds. It was the worst timing imaginable and the narrative, unadapted as it was to the news of the day, felt inappropriate to a week marked by growing numbers of nations going into population lockdown. With the formal postponement of the Games, organisers now have time to rethink and repurpose their narrative. There is much that can be shared about what has taken place since preparations started in 2013, what Japan has been building for and what explains the value and significance of these Games in our times.

Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games in 1964, and this was the chance for Japan to tell the story of rebuilding their nation in the aftermath of World War II. It will be fascinating to observe how Japan may tell us the story of what it takes to host the Games again in the aftermath of a global pandemic. In this sense, it is a valuable challenge to have the leaders of the largest sporting mega-event in the world use their skills and resources to share and explain the stories behind the Games, that is, the cultural and societal context to the sporting competition and theit multibillion infrastructure investments.

Why do the Olympics continue to attract the attention and support of over 206 nations, 124 years after they were originally launched?

Why do the Games matter?

Why do we care?

  • See my article for The Conversationfocusing on Tokyo 2020.
  • See my article for Arts Professional, discussing why now is the time to look beyond mega-events as catalysts for real estate growth and commercial profit and rethink why we need them.
  • See a short (home made!) video, here

Follow additional stories on the Olympic Games via  Culture @ the Olympics.


Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad

Youth, heritage, empowerment and nationwide celebration

Article originally published by Beatriz Garcia via Net TAM in 2018 (In English | In Japanese)

The Cultural Olympiad has been an essential component of every edition of the Olympic Games since 1912. Despite its long history, the Olympic cultural programme is one of the least well known dimensions of the Olympic Games. This is in part due to the varied ways in which the programme has been delivered and named over the years (from Olympic Art Competitions, to Olympic Art Festivals and, since Barcelona 1992, Cultural Olympiad).

Tokyo is committed to delivering a Cultural Olympiad and launched it in 2016, just after the end of the previous Games in Rio 2016. The promise was that of a four year journey (an ‘Olympiad’) in order to ensure a strong cultural foundation for the Games.

olympiad-9-world-forum.jpg

The World Forum on Sport and Culture in October 2016
contributed to launching the Cultural Olympiad
© Beatriz Garcia

I have been observing the positioning and development of Tokyo’s cultural programme and the following are my highlights and expectations for the future.

Explaining Japan to the Japanese

A noticeable aspiration of the Tokyo Cultural Olympiad is its emphasis on reaching out to today’s Japanese youth in order to help them reconnect with Japanese culture. In my discussions with organisers during 2016 and 2017, I was struck by their aspiration to explain Japan to the Japanese first, before going out to explain it to the rest of the world.

During an interview with the team at the organising committee (TOCOG) in 2016, one representative noted that:

“Japanese students don’t experience much Japanese traditional culture. 2020 will feature and involve Japanese students – so that they can experience their own culture.”

olympiad-9-2.jpg

I believe this is a fantastic aspiration and I have already noticed some important steps forward, such as the contributions by kyogen actor Ippei Shigeyama to the World Sport and Culture Forum. Shigeyama, a young actor, was able to explain the ancient traditions of kyogen in a language and style that was attractive to the younger generations and explained how through the Cultural Olympiad and other international initiatives he is working on renewing the genre, combining it with contemporary forms and even inviting international interpretations and collaborations.

Advancing the disability arts movement

Tokyo has been looking into London 2012 as its key referent for the Cultural Olympiad. Representatives from London 2012 have been invited numerous times to give talks and share the learning out of what counts as one of the largest Olympic cultural programmes in recent history. An important aspect of London 2012 was the high profile billing offered to its disability arts programme – Unlimited – which bridged across the Olympic and Paralympic Games and made it apparent the sophisticated and wide ranging approach taken by disability artists across the UK – their work was long established in Britain, but the Games helped reach out to the mainstream and be noticed internationally in ways that had not been possible before.

For Japan, exploring and showcasing the work of disabled artists comes as an important step forward, as there is not as much tradition in supporting and promoting the work of artists with disabilities as was the case in the UK pre-Games. From discussion into how to improve accessibility to existing theatres, to discussion about the diversity of artistic expression regardless of physical ability, this is an important dimension of Tokyo’s Olympic programme that the Cultural Olympiad aims to spearhead across the country. The leading programme in this area is titled Turn and it started with pioneering collaborations taking place between London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 disabled artists.

olympiad-9-turn.jpg

Turn is one of the flagship programmes for Tokyo Cultural Olympiad,
involving support and collaboration with disabled artists from London 2012 and Rio 2016.
© Beatriz Garcia

Nationwide programming

Another aspiration of Tokyo’s Cultural Olympiad that has been inspired by London 2012 is the commitment to make the programme nationwide, well beyond Tokyo as the principal host city. This has been broadly welcome by cities and regions across the country, keen to show to the world that Japan is much more than Tokyo and Kyoto, and that Japanese culture flourishes in every region. I am keen to observe how the Cultural Olympiad builds on the extensive work of existing Japanese cultural networks, from the network of Japanese creative cities to the growing positioning of Japan’s cities of culture.

From Tokyo 1964 to Tokyo 2020

But it is clear that Tokyo 2020 does not need to learn everything from London 2012. Tokyo has in fact a rich tradition to look back to, thanks to its hosting of the Olympic Games in 1964, a significant time for national re-building post World War II. Tokyo 1964 was a Games edition that left a noticeable cultural mark, particularly in terms of its world-leading approach to graphic design. I believe that re-telling and re-connecting with the cultural legacy of 1964 offers a great – and relevant – opportunity for positioning and demonstrating what is unique to Tokyo 2020 from a creative as well as Olympic heritage point of view. I would hope the Cultural Olympiad can contribute to telling this story.

olympiad-9-4.png

Copyright © International Olympic Committee (IOC) – All rights reserved. Reproduced under licence from the IOC

An Asian era for the Olympics

Finally, I am keen to see how the relationship between South Korea, Japan and China is explored through the Cultural Olympiad. Having three subsequent editions of the Games in such prominent Asian nations with such rich and complex cultural relationships brings a remarkable opportunity to engage in cultural diplomacy and making a significant contribution to cultural narratives of Asia, well beyond the Games. PyeongChang in 2018 ensured there was a strand of Korea-Japan-China programming within its Cultural Olympiad.

I recommend Tokyo 2020 follows on these foundations and uses the Cultural Olympiad as a platform for this internationally significant dialogue. A possible point of referent for this is the well-established East Asian Cities of Culture network, which is a collaboration and exchange between these three Olympic hosting nations.

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