Cultural happenings

02 Sep 2021
Legacies for People

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad gave birth to a number of programmes that have flourished since the Games.

© Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images | The Pandemonium Drummers performing at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time after the London 2012 Olympic ceremony.

Among them is Create London. Founded in 2009, this arts organisation has worked with prominent artists such as the award-winning Grayson Perry to create social enterprises, charities and cultural spaces. The 10 initiatives it has helped set up in its first decade include an adventure playground and a pioneering employment programme for young people in London’s creative sector. Create London also devotes its energies to policy, and has worked with several UK universities, commissioning ground-breaking research into inequality in the UK’s cultural industry.

For its part, the arts commissioning programme Unlimited aims to gain prominence for disabled artists on the UK and international cultural scenes, while also changing perceptions of persons with disabilities. During its lifetime, it has awarded more than GBP 4 million to over 300 disabled artists and companies, who have produced work and content that has been seen by more than 2.6 million people worldwide. Unlimited continues to attract funding, with Arts Council England agreeing to extend its support through to 2022.

The Pandemonium Drummers are another product of the Cultural Olympiad. Formed by volunteers and assembled with the aim of performing at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, this non-profit drumming group has since played at a variety of events, including the 2013 UEFA Champions League final and festivals both large and small. It is also a regular fixture at London’s major annual parades. During the COVID-19 pandemic and in support of the UK’s National Health Service staff and key workers, the group performed an online version of And I Will Kiss, the soundtrack to its segment at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Another of the Cultural Olympiad’s musical ensembles is the Games Maker Choir, formed by more than 150 of the Games Makers volunteers who helped staff the Olympic Games London 2012. In the years since, the choir has performed at major sport events such as the 2017 IPC World Para-Athletics Championships in London, the 2019 Women’s Hockey World Cup, and a number of England rugby union matches.

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad involved more than 400 events over the four years leading up to the Olympic Games. It culminated in the London 2012 festival. A series of free summertime cultural events and exhibitions, the festival was attended by more than 12 million people. It included a world record attempt for the largest improvised comedy event and the illumination of Hadrian’s Wall using hundreds of large balloons fitted with LED lights.

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