Cultural Playing Field

Why we need a small grants fund for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad by Robin Simpson
February 25, 2008, 3:46 pm
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We clearly need a small grants fund to inspire local community groups across the UK to dream up projects that fit the criteria for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The idea of a four-year UK-wide festival needs small local groups if it is to work. At present there is little motivation for the Cultural Olympiad amongst these groups because of the disillusion created by the transfer of Lottery funds to pay for the Olympic venues. I have been using the phrase “ambition deficit” to describe this which a few people have picked up.

LOCOG is adamant that the Olympiad won’t just ‘badge’ things that were already going to happen – they want all Olympiad projects to be truly reflective of the Olympic ideals and the values and themes of the Olympiad. I think voluntary arts groups are the ideal people to rise to this challenge and would undoubtedly dream up some fantastic creative solutions to reflect these values within their local community – if they were not completely switched off by the whole thing!

We know from plenty of experience with small grants funds that the presence of the fund acts as a catalyst to get people devising projects – many of which will then happen whether or not they get a grant from the fund. But without a fund few groups are going to even start thinking about devising projects. Also it is important that the small grants fund is UK-wide if we are to counter the commonly-held impression that the Olympics (and the Olympiad) is just for London and the South East.