Cultural Olympiad projects announced

Some might regard a cash injection of £5.4m into the Olympic Games to be best spent on Britain's competing athletes in preparation for 2012.

But today, the Games’ chairman, Sebastian Coe, Olympics minister, Tessa Jowell and an Arts Council executive announced that the multi-million pound budget would be spent on 12 public art events that will take place across the country as part of the Cultural Olympiad - the cultural side of the Games.

The arts supremos said in spite of the recession, there was no better time than to make such an investment in the arts. The12 as yet, unrealised projects, range from a spinning cloud sculpture visible from hundreds of miles around to a full size football pitch created within Scottish woodlands, an environmentally sustainable watermill and an artist who plans to navigate the coast accompanied by a piece of land from the Arctic to highlight the effects of climate change. They were unveiled as the winners of a major project funded by the Arts Council, which has been dubbed "the most ambitious and wide-ranging art prize in the UK".

The competition, Artists Taking the Lead, was open to artists across the nation and a total of 2,000 applications were received. The winning artists in nine regions of England, as well as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will now start working on their pieces, which will come to fruition in time for the Olympics.

Moira Sinclair, executive director of the Arts Council in London, dismissed those who cautioned against spending such a substantial amount of money on community arts projects in the midst of a global economic recession, and said these initiatives offered the promise of something positive in our current, difficult climate.

"We are always looking to the future and 2012 is two-and-a-half years away. By then we will be coming out of the recession and we will be wanting to see things about how confident we are and how creative we are as a nation. This is about our environment and our imagination. I do not think that we can hold back on investing in our artists because this will be saying something special about us and Britain," she said.

Lord Coe, said the winning commissions would be “the catalyst for a truly national showcase of culture inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games."

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, added that the Olympiad should be regarded as equal in its importance to the actual games, rather than an after-thought.

"Nobody should be under any illusion that we see the Cultural Olympiad as an equal partner to the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” she said. "You will recognise the sheer excitement, imagination and reverence of all the offerings. Each one of them will make a strong regional statement and remind people about the triple nature of the Olympic identity. Of the 12 pieces - they will lift your spirit and many of them will make you smile."

Ms Sinclair said initially, the artists were tasked with creating an inspirational idea. “We said, ‘give us an idea that will make the hairs on the back of our necks to stand up’,” she said.

All the pieces will be rooted in particular regions and will engage with the public to "redefine what public art will mean in 2012", she added.

Three 30ft hand-crocheted lions will refer to the story of Richard the Lionheart and reflect the textile industry of the East Midlands, while Northern Ireland’s largest ever chorus will assemble in a warehouse made from people’s personal possessions. A giant mechanical puppet of Lady Godiva will grace the streets of Coventry before making its journey to the capital city and LED panels on the roofs of London bus stops will allow commuters to express themselves as they travel.

Among the wackier winners was Alex Hartley’s idea to bring an Arctic island which he discovered in 2004 to the South West of England in an artwork called "nowhereisland". Hartley will navigate the coast accompanied by a travelling embassy, “exploring issues of climate change and land ownership”, according to the Arts Council. In another initiative, Marc Rees will create a silver birdlike structure out of an abandoned DC9 aeroplane, which he will hike around Wales.

This project is just one of ten to be announced as part of the Cultural Olympiad over the next two years.

An Arts Council spokeswoman said the panel had endeavoured to choose a mixture of young emering artists as well as established names. Some, she said, were relatively early into their careers, such as Craig Coulthard, chosen to represent Scotland, while the likes of Anthony McCall (who is creating a spinning column of clouds in the North West) Rees and Hartley, have firm, international reputations.

“We would have been disappointed to have all 12 winners dominated by terribly big names. This was all about encouraging a new generation of artists,” she said.

In separete Cultural Olympiad initiatives, £3m has been set aside for a London festival, and £600,000 for Unlimited, a large arts disability programme.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor