Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2012 is only Six Years Away

I went to a really interesting presentation at the National Sailing Academy in Portland today. It was about the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. That’s right CULTURE (the stuff that Purbeck District Council seems to think doesn’t exist). There was a whole chunk of the Olympic bid that was about cultural spin offs and as we have the only complete games venue and programme outside of the M25 it means that a large part of the Cultural Olympiad will be happening in Dorset. The Arts Council of England have produced a strategy and the Jurassic Coast Arts Strategy (remember that?) will be at its heart. Funds will begin to be allocated from next year. Interstingly enough, there will be special attention to international cultural exchanges and, for no apparent reason, the two selected countries will be Brazil and India. I think we’re already on to that, aren’t we?
Projects will be considered in categories according to whether they use existing resources, or new resources or exciting possibilities. At the moment everything is up for grabs and the County Arts Development Supremo Mike Hoskin is gathering suggestions. Nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out. So have a punt at some creative thinking.
Will it effect us in Purbeck and by how much? Well, to start with, the Olympic organising committee has to deliver 3 or 400 4star bedspaces. Currently there are about 70 in the area. The answer is that they will be providing a luxury cruise liner anchored in Portland Harbour as the competitor’s village but it also means that virtually every bed in Dorset will be required for spectators and hangers on. Dorset is going to be awash with visitors and we have to look at the cultural events that will keep them here. We don’t have the cathedrals and galleries that other venues have had. What are they going to do?
Isn’t it just a fortnight in 2012? In order to win its Olympic status the sailing academy has to run full scale test events in the years running up to 2012 and starting next year there will be a major international event every September. In addition the National sailing Academy is seen as the premier International training venue and there will be a year round influx of teams and spectators. And that will continue long after 2012.
Cynical? Why not? On the other hand the Olympics and the Cultural Olympiad will happen. It will happen in Dorset. There are some interesting websites showing how other communities have benefited (forget the stuff about Olympic venues standing empty and being a burden on the taxpayer - The National Sailing Academy is already built, paid for and functioning. And it’s a rather nice building). Perhaps we could put aside our natural cynicism until 2013 and have a bit of what’s going on.
I hope to have a fuller report of the meeting availabler later.

http://www.london2012.org/en/ (look for “our vision”)

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