Arts role for Chris Smith in Games bid

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Chris Smith, former secretary of state for culture, is to co-ordinate the programme of arts that will be part of London's 2012 Olympic bid as chairman of the capital's Cultural Consortium.

The cultural component of the Olympic bid will be the most pressing item on his agenda as he takes up the role, inwhich he will implement the culture strategy of the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone.

The establishment of the consortium makes the capital the last region in England to have a body providing a strategic approach to arts, sport, heritage and the creative industries.

A network of consortiums was set up by Mr Smith when he was at the Culture Department. Mr Smith said: "I wanted them to be strong voices for culture in their regions, organisations that could draw people and activities together, see the whole cultural picture and not just the individual parts, set ambitious strategies.

"Nowhere are these things more important than in London, which has a vibrant cultural and creative life, from the grandest of national institutions to the liveliest of local activities.'' Culture had to be an integral part of the Olympic bid. "One of the great strengths of the bid is that we want people to come not just for a big sporting festival but for our cultural riches as well."

In April, Mr Livingstone announced a 10-year strategy to develop the capital as a centre of cultural excellence.