AS the countdown gathers pace for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and the Cultural Olympiad which runs alongside it, Sheffield can look forward to a share of the action. Between now and September a host of sporting and cultural events and activities will take place across the city for people to enjoy either as participants or spectators.
A great deal of resources have been poured into the Cultural Olympiad’s programme of events to profile UK culture to the rest of the world.
Some key national events will be coming to Sheffield such as an evening celebration when the Olympic Torch passes through, the Precious Cargo exhibition at Weston Park Museum and the International Student Drama Festival at the Crucible.
Others are part of a Yorkshire regional initiative such as Synchronised, a blend of synchronised swimming and Indian classical dance at Pond’s Forge, and the Alight community music event on the first Saturday in March which set the ball rolling.
Amy Carter, Head of Arts, Museums and Cultural Promotion, has been leading the city’s Cultural Olympiad Steering Group over the past three years with its Sheffield Lighting the Flame for Sport strategy which has promoted events like Chance to Shine in the city centre last June, 12 months ahead to the big event.
“It’s about a fusion of culture and sport,” she says. “Culture has always been a part of the Olympics, not only in things like the opening and closing ceremonies but in some of the sporting events themselves like gymnastics and synchronised swimming.
“Sheffield is well placed to take part with its sporting institutions and cultural strategy and the Cultural Olympiad encapsulates the excellence we have in the city which has world-class artists and sportsmen and women. It’s a great platform to show what we have to international visitors like the participants in the student festival and also allow the local audience to feel part of the Olympics in a way as a northern city you might not feel otherwise.
“It captures a moment in time that won’t come round again in most of our lifetimes,” says Ms Carter.
“The city council role is to co-ordinate and enable.
“There are regional and national projects and local ones as well.”
In addition to providing opportunities for local people to get involved, the Cultural Olympiad is expected to enhance the profile of Sheffield for visitors and generate additional spending.
Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Jobs and Growth, said: “Sheffield has a vibrant cultural offer. We have the largest regional theatre complex outside London, a thriving local music scene and a good range of museums and galleries. We have grasped the opportunity of the Cultural Olympiad to showcase this lively cultural life on a national and international stage.”