The Diary: Cultural Olympiad; Roy Blackbeard; J D Salinger; Keira Knightley; David Beckham

Cultural Olympiad off to a false start

Reflecting on the Cultural Olympiad – and the mystery surrounding the cultural programme for the 2012 Olympics – Alistair Spalding, the artistic director and chief executive of Sadler's Wells, Britain's premiere venue for contemporary dance, said he was a little worried at the lack of "big names" that had been confirmed to be taking part in the initiative. "They [the organisers] have left it quite late. The artists I'm engaged with are already involved in their own activities, their diaries are filling up... I imagine it is going to be a challenge, because it's quite late in the day." He suggested that it might be better – for programming, at least – to "move the Olympics to 2013"! Tony Hall, meanwhile, who is the chair of the Olympiad, said discussions with artists were taking place, and that an announcement of who would take part was imminent over the next few months. The Olympiad, he said, was going to change its name, adding that it would prove to be the "festival of festivals". We await further details.

Display of anger

Roy Blackbeard, Botswana's high commissioner, was met by angry protestors while he attended the opening of an exhibition celebrating Botswana, at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London's Fitzroy Square. The protest was designed to highlight Botswana's persecution of the Gana and Gwi bushmen of the central Kalahari Game Reserve. Although the country's high court ruled that the bushmen had been evicted illegally, the government has apparently made it impossible for those bushmen who want to return.

Search is back on

He lived and died out of public view but J D Salinger's death appears to have reinvigorated the curiosity that surrounded him. In the absence of all those novels he was thought to have been writing in his self-imposed solitude, Faber is re-issuing Ian Hamilton's biography, 'In Search of JD Salinger', (whose original text Salinger blocked in the supreme court). John Seaton, from Faber, said "Interest in him has always been strong, paradoxical, given his obsession with privacy. His sad death can only make this interest more acute."

Calling out for a celebrity love-in

When the head of the Poetry Archive asked Keira Knightley to read out her favourite love poem for a Valentine's Day intiative (where couples can download it and send to their other half's mobile phone), she invited him, with open arms, to record the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, 'Love's Philosophy', in her London home on the 14 January, in-between rehearsals for 'The Misanthrope'. Judi Dench , Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen also recorded their love poems in their homes. Rosamund Pike actually brought her own – 'Oh! Death Will Find Me', by Rupert Brooke, which was not even on the Poetry Archive's original selection list. Jude Law, who recorded his while playing 'Hamlet', last August, couldn't narrow it down to one so choose to read three, and spent ages trying to get his declamation pitch perfect. What romantics, all!

Will Becks be curating the display?

A gallery is to display paintings from regional collections in Covent Garden, as a taster to encourage art-loving Londoners and tourists to travel beyond the capital, according to 'The Art Newspaper'. The plan is to hold up to four major shows a year, with most of the loans from regional public collections with some being curated by celebrities – possible invitations have apparently already gone to Roy Strong and David Beckham. The British Isles Gallery is planned for 2011, and will be in the former Theatre Museum. A planning application to use the space for an art gallery was submitted to Westminster City Council on 21 December.

a.akbar@independent.co.uk

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