Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, always envisioned that the Games should be the “marriage of sport and art.” The Cultural Olympiad runs parallel to the Olympic Games and profiles arts and culture.
To celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the Canadian Olympic Committee has challenged communities across Canada to add to a digital Cultural Olympiad that celebrates Canadian arts and culture through the eyes of the local youth.
Upon hearing of the challenge, your city council has asked the local youth to create their community’s submission. Your team is charged with creating a submission to the digital Canadian Youth 2012 Cultural Olympiad that will proudly present your community’s art, culture, architecture, and people to youth around the world.
From the rush of the basketball court and the thrill of the high jump, to the beauty of synchronized swimming and the archer’s precision under pressure; nothing beats the excitement of Olympic Games. But the Games are about more than just excellence in sport. They are also about excellence in the arts and culture. This summer in London, the Cultural Olympiad will inspire spectators some of the world’s best artists and entertainers.
When Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Games in 1894, he wanted the Games to be a marriage of sport and art. It is the goal of the London 2012 Olympic Games to bring this vision to life.
Sport and culture both support the mission and vision behind today’s Olympic Games. “De Coubertin wanted to bring people together for peace and competition. He wanted to give them an opportunity to get to know each other,” says Burke Taylor, Executive Producer for Vancouver’s 2010 Cultural Olympiad. “A lot of people aren’t aware of that. They think it’s all about gold medals.”
An Olympiad is a four year period, so the London Cultural Olympiad began in 2008. Since then they have been featuring visual art, dramatic performances, music, and films throughout the UK. Young people have been uploading their art and sharing it with the world. This type of participation would have been impossible a few years ago.
“It is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic Movement,” says Francesca Canty, the UK and International Cultural Programmes and Partnerships Manager. The finale of London’s Cultural Olympiad will be the 2012 Festival. It will bring together the leading artists from all over the world from June 21 to September 9, 2012. It is the UK’s “biggest ever festival,” says Canty. In all, 1,000 events will run during the festival.
From fireworks to mixed media art displays and large musical performances, festival events are divided into “strands,” or types, of entertainment. For example, young people were asked to create a short film for a competition in the “Film and Digital” strand. Twenty pieces of “New Music” were commissioned. The “BT River of Music” strand features concerts on different stages along the famous River Thames featuring music from the world’s continents. There’s even a “World of Shakespeare” strand with a new twist on the English classics. Some events are paid admission, but many are free. Venues are set up across London and throughout the UK.
Of course, it takes more than great vision to pull off such a large-scale event. It takes years of advance planning. The overall tone of the Cultural Olympiad needs developing, and the scope must be defined. Will it feature local, national or international artists? Which artists will be invited?
Top artists often set their schedules months or years in advance, so organizers have to give them plenty of notice. Larger organizations like as symphonies or museums need even more notice. Connections between young visual, digital or musical artists and older and more established talent need to be imagined and arranged. In the end, smiles Taylor, “Top talent is not hard to find when asked to be part of the Olympic Games.”
“The more partnerships the better,” Taylor emphasizes. The patrons of the local art community need to be approached early in the process, and asked for their input and ideas. City planners need to help plan and install temporary and permanent venues. Partnerships can lead to free exhibition space or other donations. This can lower the production costs and provide funds to attract better performers.
In other words, the amount of coordination, detailed management and relationship building is mammoth. Organizers rely on a core group of staff, and an army of volunteers and contractors. Organizing a successful Cultural Olympiad means getting the right people on board from the start, defining roles, allowing creativity to flow, and having a plan to finish well. While the possibilities may be endless, deadlines are not. They are firm. Large and small commitments along the way must be met.
The other people to bring on board early are media providers and broadcasters. Advertising the highlights of a Cultural Olympiad is half the battle. Once you have a line-up of events in place, and venues and times established, you need to build a buzz. The Cultural Olympiad is a key way to get people excited about the Games.
Social media tools have played a large role in promoting the Games and the Cultural Olympiad. It is much cheaper and more effective than traditional media. London’s planners have used this to their advantage. Due to social media promotions, they expect 10 million participants this summer.
Hosting a Cultural Olympiad is expensive. Fortunately, governments, donors, and sponsors help fund the events. Revenue also comes from ticket and merchandise sales.
Spectators who have attended more than one Olympic Games, comment on how each has its own personality and feel. Part of this personality comes from how the culture of the host country is profiled during the Cultural Olympiad. Taylor explains that “One of the great strengths of the Cultural Olympiad,” is that it does so much to distinguish one Games from another.”
The Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad featured the works of artists from across Canada. There were live performances, galleries, and public art. The city was abuzz with excitement. Over 2.5 million fans crowded to hear concerts, appreciate visual art, and take part in the celebrations. While some of many of the events required tickets, there were 650 free events.
Unlike past Cultural Olympiads, culture was also displayed digitally. The Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition (CODE) was a digital art showcase. It profiled new digital media styles in art, music, and film. Artists contributed their pictures, videos, songs and stories that told the world about daily life in Canada. Over 20,000 submissions were made. Social networking made this a hugely popular event.
It was such a huge success that the Canadian Olympic Committee has decided to have Canadian youth digitally celebrate their culture as part of a Canadian Youth 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The challenge is to describe our culture as seen through the eyes of youth. What does it mean to be a youth in Canada? What art, traditions, customs, beliefs, and behaviours are the “blueprint for living” as a youth in Canada?
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has set some submission guidelines for the Canadian Youth 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The format chosen for all submissions is a PechaKucha presentation.
A PechaKucha is a presentation where 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each. These images are narrated to explain the significance of that image. Your PechaKucha is to explain Canadian culture through the eyes of youth. Since Canada is a vast nation, culture is a bit different in each community. For instance the culture in a small Newfoundland fishing village will be quite different than the culture of a ranching community in Alberta. Profile the culture in your community. You may also want to challenge your students to take pictures that represent their cultural beliefs and values.
Planning Your PechaKucha
Creating your PechaKucha presentation is not complicated. Here are the steps that you will need to follow:
- Discuss the meaning of culture. What is Canadian culture? How is it present in your community? What does it mean to be a youth in your community?
- Select the 20 images that best capture how you have defined Canadian culture in your community. This might be images from the web, those you scan from posters or brochures, those you create (e.g., a collage or piece of unique art), or pictures of immediate and extended family members and friends.
- Write your script to outline the key points of the image and how they relate to Canadian culture.
- Order your images for the maximum effect. Think about how the presentation will flow.
- Use either PowerPoint or Prezi to display your presentation.
- Record your narration as part of the PowerPoint or Prezi. Alternatively, you can narrate it live. If you choose to use background music in your presentation, ensure it is local music. Give credit to the musician on the acknowledgements page.