London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Evaluation

Photo: Beatriz Garcia during Piccadilly Circus Circus, part of the London 2012 Festival

In November 2011, the major stakeholders in the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival commissioned Dr Beatriz Garcia and her team at the  Institute of Cultural Capital (ICC) to produce an assessment of the multiple impacts of hosting the Cultural Olympiad. The final report was published in April 2013.

Download the Full Report or ExecutiveSummary.

The ICC received a broad brief to assess a complex and multi-layered object of study, which has changed considerably from its inception as the London 2012 culture chapter within the Candidature File in 2004, to its formal launch in 2008 and its culmination with the London 2012 Festival in 2012. This research and resulting report documents this journey and offers an objective assessment of the value, immediate impacts and legacy opportunities brought by the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It assesses its aims and objectives, how these have been achieved and the resulting impact across five main areas:

  • Raising the bar for cultural programming
  • Engaging audiences and communities
  • Developing tourism
  • Governance and partnership approach
  • Placing culture at the heart of the Games

Structure of the report

The report is structured in 6 chapters and a Conclusion

  • Chapter 1: Introduction, includes an overview of the key Cultural Olympiad milestones, strands of programming and statistical indicators, the report is organised into five main thematic chapters:
  • Chapter 2: Raising the bar for cultural programmingoffers a closer look at each programming strand, assesses in detail the unprecedented scope of the programme and considers evidence of achievement to meet core values such as inspiring young people and showcasing Deaf and disabled artists.
  • Chapter 3: Engaging audiences and communities assesses the programme’s considerable outreach, looking at the volume, diversity, depth and likely sustainability of public engagement across audiences, visitors, participants and volunteers.
  • Chapter 4: Developing tourism focuses on the available evidence about immediate domestic and international tourism impacts and the opportunities brought by the Cultural Olympiad to grow culture-related tourism.
  • Chapter 5: Governance and partnership approaches discusses the programme’s complex operational framework, its sophisticated approach to secure funding and stakeholder support across the UK and the impacts of such an approach on multi-sector and sustainable partnership development.
  • Chapter 6: Culture at the heart of the Games discusses the programme’s capacity to remain central to the Games experience, from the strategies put in place to meet this objective, to its impact on opinion formers, publics and cultural stakeholders.

The Conclusion offers a brief reflection on key lessons and opportunities for legacy, particularly for future Games hosts and the hosts of one-off large cultural events, for which the knowledge base had so far been sparse.

This report is complemented by two Appendices offering supporting technical information as well as five dedicated Case Study reports, and a joint summary report offering Reflections_on_the_Cultural_Olympiad_and_London_2012_Festival by its director, Ruth Mackenzie.

Rio 2016 Legacy

Published in collaboration with Culture @ the Olympics, Aberje and the University of São Paulo

Dr Beatriz Garcia and her collaborators at the University of Sâo Paulo and Aberje are in Rio this week presenting the results of our one year UK-Brazil research collaboration to explore the immediate legacy of hosting the Rio 2016 Games on the reputations of Rio and Brazil as cultural and creative centres.

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We have received much media interest in Brazil around our core finding: that the most dominant narratives about Rio’s image post Games have been of a negative nature. However, our research covers wider issues about how narratives of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ after any Olympic edition get fixed in the popular imagination – and how national and international opinion leaders play a crucial role at the key points in time of any Olympic Games news cycle.

We are ‘one year on’ after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Rio and Brazil went throught a dramatic narrative roller coaster since they were awarded the Games in 2009 – from award euphoria, to pre-Games despair and a sense of ‘relief’, pride and satisfaction during the two weeks of Olympic competition. We argue that the vaccumm in coverage inmediately post-Games has resulted in a loss of some of the most meaningful (and positive) symbolic narratives that emerged at Games-time. As such, by 2017, Olympic legacy reporting is dominated by negative stories.

Will the Rio 2016 Games be fixed in the national and international imagination as a failure?

We are debating this at our final conference tomorrow, at one of Rio’s most defining cultural legacies, the Museum do Amanhã.


More information and updates on this research can be found here.