Cultural Olympiad gives culture a sporting chance - Museums Association

Cultural Olympiad gives culture a sporting chance

More details are emerging about the Cultural Olympiad and how museums and galleries will be able to get involved.
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Simon Stephens
The most obvious part museums can play is in the International Exhibitions Programme, which is one of the ten major Cultural Olympiad projects.

It will feature international curators working with local communities to reinterpret UK collections and will feature a series of exhibitions in the years leading up to 2012.

The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) will work with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to deliver the International Exhibitions Programme.

Over the next few months the MLA will appoint about 12 main delivery partners for the programme, comprising a mix of national museums, hub partners and independents. Other museums will be able to get involved through a wider education programme.

The MLA is to fund a director for the International Exhibitions Programme and will start recruiting for this post soon. It has already employed a senior policy adviser for 2012 to oversee the delivery of MLA's Olympic activities. Isobel Siddons takes up the post on 9 July and arrives from MLA London, where she was the archives development officer.

The MLA is also working on activities that will form part of a UK Cultural Festival that will accompany the games. There are four main strands to this and the MLA will give more details on 10 July at an event to mark the next stage of Setting the Pace, the name given for the contribution of museums, libraries and archives will make to the games.

The funding available for arts organisations' Olympic activities is also becoming clearer. Legacy Trust UK is the organisation the government has created to distribute money earmarked for sporting and cultural activities.

The trust has £40m to spend: £34m from the National Lottery and £6m from the Treasury. 'The majority of the money from the fund, around 70 per cent, will be spent on cultural projects,' said culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

But museums and galleries have already taken a big financial hit following Jowell's announcement in March that the hole in the budget for the Olympics would be plugged with lottery money. As a result, the Heritage Lottery Fund lost £90m, and Arts Council England lost nearly £63m. In total, £675m was taken from the four lottery distributors.

Simon Stephens

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