David Lister: The Olympics are over, so why repeat the Cultural Olympiad?

The week in arts

The Olympics was such a success that we should do it all again next year. Well, you could sympathise with the sentiment, but as an idea it's kind of crazy, isn't it. But "the Cultural Olympiad was such a success that we should do it all again next year" is apparently not so crazy an idea. Indeed, it was suggested this week by the Culture Secretary himself and, not unsurprisingly, greeted with joy and elation by those running the Cultural Olympiad.

Jeremy Hunt has asked the Cultural Olympiad board to find a way of creating "a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Festival". Legacy is, of course, the word of the month, and it would be a pitiful arts festival next year that could not find a way to incorporate the word into its mission statement. Mr Hunt's words were seized on, not just by the Cultural Olympiad board, but also by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson who said he was "delighted that work is now starting to explore how the festival might evolve in the future."

Shortage of time and space meant that neither gentleman, nor the press releases that followed their statements, could mention the not insignificant fact that the London 2012 Festival, the centrepiece of the Cultural Olympiad, did cost £55.3m.

It's not insignificant because the arts generally are going through a tough time, with their budgets cut and some companies closing. For those companies to watch £55m being spent on a festival with no topical relevance would be a mighty slap in the face.

This is not to be a killjoy and it is not to deny that the London 2012 Festival was in many ways a joyous addition to the Olympic Games, with events from the Scissor Sisters at the Tower of London through all of Shakespeare's plays at the Globe to aerial circus at four great cathedrals. But amid the lingering euphoria a more measured analysis is necessary. Much of the London 2012 Festival consisted of art events that were already happening, long commissioned, with the Festival logo niftily stuck alongside. The Proms and the David Hockney retrospective at the Royal Academy were two notable examples. They were part of the London 2012 Festival…but come on, they weren't really were they.

There is no need for the London 2012 Festival to be repeated, there is no need for it to "evolve". Britain does actually have a summer of arts, every summer… pop festivals, theatre festivals, opera festivals, the Edinburgh Festival, art exhibitions, dance, comedy. Things aren't going to stop because the Olympics have ended. We won't be feeling culturally bereft next year because there will be a multitude of arts events to choose from.

They say that every nation that hosts the Olympics suffers from post-Olympic depression, but I hadn't realised that this applied to Cultural Olympiads too. Those running it along with the Culture Secretary have to learn to let go. It's difficult, but it would be more difficult this time next year, with the Olympics a distant memory, to justify spending another £55m on an arts festival lacking any raison d'être in a country happily overflowing with arts festivals and happily overflowing with art.

A substitute that's hard to explain

The Who, unsurprisingly, proved a great choice to top the bill at the Olympics closing ceremony, with a pulsating short set. I was slightly uneasy, though, at Roger Daltrey changing the lyric to "Baba O'Riley". The songs laments "it's only teenage wasteland", but Roger, presumably in tribute to Olympic legacy and a changed east London, sang: "There's more than teenage wasteland." It was in the spirit of the evening I suppose, but I also feel that a song is of its moment and like a poem or a play should be unchangeable whatever the circumstances. It could certainly have been worse. I genuinely misheard a line in their closing number "My Generation" and thought I heard Roger sing in homage to the new east London "Regeneration." That would have been a step too far.

Fringe benefit for the funny females

Radar reports today on some of the comedy acts on the Edinburgh Fringe. It's a time of year when I always become queasy with one particular memory. One year, I wrote that the female comedians were not doing that well, and the comedy critic of Time Out wrote in all seriousness: "David Lister should expose himself to more female comedians." Perhaps I should get the train up to Edinburgh and do just that. It could be the funniest act on the Fringe.

d.lister@independent.co.uk

twitter.com/davidlister1

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone