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Expert Comment: The London 2012 Olympics Festival

London 2012 Festival Friday 22 June 2012

Dr Gary Anderson, Lecturer in Drama, Dance and Performance Studies at Hope, looks at the London 2012 Festival.

We are told there are a thousand reasons to celebrate. Some of them are local: marking’s done, exam boards out of the way, student numbers better than expected. Some of them are national: the Diamond Jubilee, England getting out of the group stage of Euro 2012 and now the Olympics.

In order to make sure the UK whips itself up into a celebratory frenzy we have the London 2012 Festival. This is a programme of events run across the UK over the next twelve weeks. It includes Arts, Music, Dance, Drama and more than one or two appearances from Hollywood’s A list, including Jude Law.

Ruth Mackenzie, the chief organiser of the London 2012 Festival speaks of ‘the magic dust of the Olympics’ being sprinkled on the nation. What role can cultural events play in the regeneration of an economy in a double-dip recession? No doubt these things are all planned well in advance but isn’t the coincidence of national celebrations whilst we try to navigate our way through an austerity programme that has seen a neo-liberal revolution in higher education a little too much of a coincidence?

I’m all for celebrating, but what might the magic dust of the Olympics help us to forget? As the critics and conscience of society we may need to take the magic dust with a little pinch of salt.

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