London 2012 Festival celebrates a summer of success

September 10, 2012

Press Releases

London 2012 Festival celebrates a summer of success as it hands the cultural baton to Derry~Londonderry, Glasgow and Rio 

Homage to Rio at the Mayor's Thames Festival on the closing weekend of the London 2012 Festival and handover to Rio 2016 Photograph Sarah London

Homage to Rio at the Mayor’s Thames Festival on the closing weekend of the London 2012 Festival and handover to Rio 2016 Photograph Sarah London

The London 2012 Festival today released audience figures to the end of August 2012. Figures for the remaining period of the Festival will be announced later this autumn.


19.5 million people join in UK wide London 2012 Festival

16.5 million free opportunities draw new audiences

9 out of 10 people attending events agree London was right to make culture a key pillar of the Games


This summer, London 2012 Festival, a 12-week UK-wide celebration that brought together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, saw more than 19.5 million people take part in its series of cultural events programmed to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


The figures showed that more than 3 million people took part in paid for events up to the end of August, including more than 1,450,000 who attended paid exhibitions in museums and galleries, and over 600,000 people who attended paid for events, performances and exhibitions as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.


Up to the end of August, 16.5 million people had taken advantage of free London 2012 Festival events including 2.9 million who joined in with Martin Creed’s All The Bells artwork. The ten most popular free events excluding All the Bells accounted for 11.5 million attendances, and 7 million attendanceswere made to the top ten most popular free exhibitions in museums and galleries.


Polling by London 2012 research partner Neilson has shown that 9 out of 10 people who attended the London 2012 Festival said that it was a positive addition to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and 84% of people enjoyed the Festival. The Festival has been successful in attracting new audiences to cultural events – of those who attended London 2012 Festival events two thirds said they would like to attend more cultural events like the London 2012 Festival in the future. Placing culture back as a key pillar of the Games has made a positive impact with a third of people surveyed saying they will take part in arts, culture and entertainment events as a result of the London 2012 Olympic andParalympic Games.


The final week of the London 2012 Festival saw the opening of major new commissions, including the Scottish dancer, choreographer and artist Michael Clark’s Barrowlands Project which invited local people in Glasgow to perform alongside professional dancers; Branches: The Nature of Crisis, Argentine choreographer and director Constanza Macras’s new site-specific show in the forests of North Wales, bringing art to unusual places; and legendary European director Calixto Bieito presented the world premiere of Forests, inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, at Birmingham’s Old Rep Theatre.


There were also a number of major musical celebrations and free participatory events that reflected many of the core values of the programme. Africa Express went on its musical journey on board a train across the UK, with its collective of musicians from Africa, Europe and USA playing pop-up gigs and shows; in London, Thames Festival: Homage to Rio celebrated Rio de Janeiro’s music and culture, with a Rio-style carnival float; Mandala lit up the facades of Birmingham Town Hall and Nottingham Council House with a bold fusion of South Asian dance, music and ground-breaking 3D projection; in the UK’s biggest night of classical music, The Last Night of the Proms 2012 brought the end of the eight-week season of concert and events to a close; and an estimated 6,000 performers participated in more than 220 bandstands across the UK as part of Bandstand Marathon – Communities in Tune, in the final participatory event of the London 2012 Festival.


The focus now turns to Derry-Londonderry, UK City of Culture 2013; Glasgow 2014 and Rio 2016.  The London 2012 Festival has established key partnerships with each city to programme new commissions, events and performances that continue into 2013 and beyond.


Derry~Londonderry, UK City of Culture 2013

Small City Becomes Huge, a newartwork by leading UK artist David Shrigley, was unveiled at the City of London Guildhall on 8 September. Specially commissioned in collaboration with the Mayor of London and Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013, the work will be presented at the Derry~Londonderry Guildhall later this year, connecting the two venues through a humorous twist on history. Taking the style of an Evening Standard publicity board, the headline reads ‘Small City Becomes Huge’. This statement nods to the influence of the Guildhalls in the wealth and cultural influence of both cities. It also references the recent spotlight on London as a consequence of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a spotlight that will soon transfer to Derry~Londonderry as 2013 UK City of Culture.


Glasgow 2014

Creative Scotland and London 2012 Festival co-commissioned the celebrated dance and choreographer Michael Clark’s takeover of the reknowned Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom on the final weekend of the London 2012 Festival.


Rio 2016

A series of collaborations have seen Brazilian artists working alongside artists from the UK as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Rio Occupation saw 30 Brazilian artists living and working with their British counterparts in London for 30 days this summer, creating new works of art inspired by theirtime in the city. A return invasion is planned for April 2013, when Rio de Janeiro is inviting London artists to invade their city as they start theirjourney to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.

In partnership with Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro/Secretaria de Cultura, FUNARTE and the Museu Bispo do Rosário Arte Contemporânea, the V&A presents an exhibition featuring over 80 sculptures, hand-embroidered banners, garments and other artworks by one of Brazil’s most acclaimed artists, Arthur Bispo do Rosario (1909-1989). Admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 29, Bispo’s creations were made in complete isolation from the art establishment, however his ‘outsider’ art has long been celebrated for its skill and imaginative approach to working with everyday, found materials. The exhibition runs until 28 October and Arthur Bispo do Rosario’s works is also featured in the 2012 Sao Paulo Biennale.

Big Dance is another project that now looks towards Rio in 2014. Following a successful programme which featured many Brazilian dance projects, plans are developing for Big Dance to be adopted by Brazil as part of the Cultural Olympiad for the World Cup in 2014 and Rio 2016 in partnership with the British Council.

Over 2,000 Brazilian and Britishperformers, eleven floats, six sound systems and numerous walking music band members and costumed groups took part in Rio London Collaboration at the OneHackney Festival to welcome the Olympic Flame to the London 2012 Host Borough of Hackney.

Thames Festival: Homage to Rio presented the largest Carnival commission ever seen in the UK, created by Rio Carnival designer Renato Lage and leading UK designer Paul McLaren. Performers and artists from Rio and the UK brought to life a presentation of a Rio-style float, which was accompanied by sets from Brazilian DJs and performances bySamba and Mas Bands working with Rio carnival artists.

As part of the Unlimited commissions, Candoco, saw guest dancers from Beijing and Rio de Janeiro join Candoco’s own international company of disabled and non-disabled dancers.

In Lawnmowers Theatre: BoombaDown the Tyne, Opaxoro samba group of dancers, Orquestra Sertau from the North East of Brazil and the Lawnmowers Theatre Company from the North East of England came together for large-scale SambaCeilidh performances of music, dance and theatre that celebrated the cultures and the spirits of the English Blaydon Races and the Brazilian Boi Bumba.


The London 2012 Festival ends with projects reflecting the two main themes inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. For Unlimited, London 2012 Festival presented the largest ever series of commissions by disabled and deaf artists, celebrating their work on an unprecedented scale across the UK with 29 commissions and many events timed to coincide with the Paralympic Games.


Later in September, London 2012 Festival events continue with Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun project and Peace One Day, drawing on the theme of the Olympics and of the Olympic Truce. Central to the first Olympic Games held in 776 BC, the Olympic Truce encourages nations to cease hostilities and set aside conflict during the Olympic Games. Sixteen short Little Sun films made by eighteen young, internationally acclaimed filmmakers from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America – regions of the world facing energy shortage – will be premiered at Tate Modern followed by a discussion led by the artist; and for the Peace One Day – Global Truce Countdown on 21 September, Elton John will headline the concert at Wembley Arena on World Peace Day, when artists from the London 2012 Festival will hand over the inspiration of the Olympic Truce to artists working towards Rio 2016.


Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The London 2012 Festival was a brilliant celebration of, and showcase for, the very best of the UK’screativity.  It has done a huge amount to reinforce London’s reputation as one of the world’s top cultural destinations.  And with such a huge range of events – many of them free – this truly was a festival for everyone”.


Tony Hall, Chair of the Cultural Olympiad Board, said: “London 2012 Festival has been a spectacular finale to the four-year Cultural Olympiad, a summer of events that has offered everyone the opportunity to take part in the celebrations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This has been a summer of new participation in the arts, of new partnerships and of renewed appreciation for our cultural sector here in the UK. I must pay tribute to the vision and creativity of the London 2012 Festival team and our partners, who have helped to bring the London 2012 Festival programme to all four corners of the UK.”


Ruth Mackenzie, Director of London 2012 Festival, said: “We are delighted by the overwhelming response to the Festival programme, which showcased the world’s leading artists alongside the stars of the sports world, and would like to thank the artists and audiences for creating so many inspiring and lasting memories of the London 2012 Festival.”


Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts CouncilEngland said: “One of the many great things about London 2012 has been the success of the Cultural Olympiad, showing that the conjunction of body and spirit is something that works. I am proud that the Arts Council has been able to help make this incredible achievement happen.


“For the past four years our artists have pushed boundaries and excited and inspired audiences of all ages. Projects have engaged hundreds of thousands of people across the country, like All The Bells, Big Dance, the Summer Reading Challenge and BT River of Music, and I hope that part of thelegacy will be that more people make the arts an even bigger part of their lives.”


Moira Swinbank, CEO of Legacy Trust UK said: “Legacy Trust UK is delighted that through our support of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival so many people across the UK have had the opportunity to celebrate the London 2012 Games.  Our wide range of innovative cultural and sporting activities have provided real opportunities for individuals and communities to engage in different ways, and deliver a living legacy beyond 2012. We are particularly proud to have been the major and instigating funder for high profile Festival events such as Land of Giants in Belfast, Speed of Light in Edinburgh and Games Time in Northampton, to name but a few of more than 100 projects the Trust is funding as part of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.”



Rt Hon Dame Janet Paraskeva DBE, Chair of the Olympic Lottery Distributor said: “We are pleased that National Lottery funding has brought such a wide range of events to people all across the UK as part of the London 2012 Festival. The summer of sport has been complemented by a festival of cultural events on an unprecedented scale”.


Peter Mather, Group Regional Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK, BP, said: “We are delighted to have been part of this world-class Festival as Premier Partner. This has been a four-year journey, and we congratulate the LOCOG team and our partners – the NationalPortrait Gallery, British Museum, Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company and Tate – on creating an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime celebration and a fitting finale to a ground-breaking Cultural Olympiad.”


Suzi Williams, director, BT Group Marketing and Brand, said: “From the very beginning BT understood that the London 2012 Games would be about more than sport – that’s why we became a Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. We set out to help as many people as possible experience the exciting London 2012 atmosphere for free. Through BT River of Music and our Road to 2012 projectwith the National Portrait Gallery, we’ve connected hundreds of thousands of people across the UK with London 2012, helping to create their own personal Olympic and Paralympic memories.”

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