You may be interested to read the latest news about the run-up to the 2012 Olympics and the possible involvement of Morris and the Folk Arts in it. John Clifford, of the Open Morris, recently attended a meeting at LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) and this is a summary of his report of what Martin Green Executive Director of the Ceremonies said.
There’s quite a lot of it, but it’s worth reading it all to get a flavour of the “big picture” and how local Morris sides can fit in – principally through the torch relay and the subsequent local celebrations.
The Ceremonies Team covers 4 areas of work:
1: The Welcome ceremonies
Every national team has a celebration to welcome them formally to the games, raise their flag, national anthem and so on. This will be a ‘private’ in house TV focused event.
2: The Flame. This was the most formed ceremony so far.
Councils have been given allocated dates of the route within their county. Basically the proposal is for it to pass within ’1 hour by public transport’ of every person in the UK. 70 days in total. (Please check your council is participating – some authorities have voted to boycott the Flame due to funding cuts).
The route will carry a major reference to the regionality of its route e.g. Pipers in Scotland and Whiskey, Eisteddfods in Wales, Morris & Shakespeare in England, (and something in N. Ireland as yet unspecified).
It is a celebration of the nation’s unique attributes and will cover human and geographical highlights.
It is suggested that each side/team/group expresses their interest to be involved with the route to their local county council / borough council in early January 2011 so that the council’s Olympics officer will have a full view of interested participants. It has been agreed that we do not write in before as they will not have a route to consider and your work could be filed away for ever. This is your bit. By Jan 2011 – Write a set of suggestions as to how to you can involve your side. There are ‘obvious’ historical geographical high visual impact locations across the country, be it famous bridges, historical sites, imposing architecture, famous rural beauty that may lead the route. Equally your side may live in a tiny picturesque village just waiting to be discovered. It’s up to you to put in a creative case. The Councils will be given a draft route that they can develop to fit their county.
The Flame runners have to be nominated. They cannot be self-proposed. On May 18th 2011 – 1 year before the flame relay starts, there will be an open application for the 8,000 places. To nominate you will be asked to submit an application in no more than 100 words as to why this person ‘fits the bill’. 50% of flame ‘runners’ will be under 24 years, 50% will be ‘runners’ over 24 years that have a proven track record of facilitating or inspiring young people in sport / arts. This application will be on the Voluntary Arts Website (see below) by late April 2011 as well as the BBC, London 2012, Sport for All and others.
The Flame Route.
The route will ultimately be decided by County and then Borough Councils.
At the end of each of the 70 days’ runs there will be a celebration funded by the sponsors Lloyds, Adidas, and Coca-Cola. They are providing a showcase on two stage trucks complete with lighting, sound, lasers and so on. The show will be essentially the same for every venue, be that village or major city centre. What will be significantly differently will be the regional influence that follows the formal end of the day. The ending is expected to blend our locality and its involvement with a local showcase emphasising youth empowerment and inspiration.
As a note the Athens games flame events were praised for their ability to reflect the national history and contrast with the national modernity.
3 and 4: The Opening Ceremonies and Closing Celebrations
It is known that 80,000 people will be in the stadium for the opening and closing events. Comparatively this is insignificant if we look at the 8.3 billion live TV viewers. The principle focus for all decisions therefore will be based on their televisuality.
How will our events be different from Athens and Beijing?
In Athens all performers were thought to be professionals. In Beijing all performers were members of, or employees of Chinese State Military. London 2012 will have for the most part amateur performers led by stars and supported by jobbing musicians etc. The ceremonies are a chance for the nation to show “this is me and this is what we are”. This was not further explored in the meeting. The opening ceremony of the main games has 70% dictated by the International Olympic Committee protocols. This defines the 30% of time for the spectaculars against 70% time for the competitors to parade the arena. There are 4 ceremonies. The first ceremony has been allocated to Danny Boyle the world famous director of Slum Dog Millionaire. The other 3 have yet to be allocated a producer. Each ceremony will be seen as a seamless package rather than a collage of individual images and events. The closing ceremonies are to be re-branded as closing celebrations – more of a party atmosphere. It was suggested there could be an opening for Morris and tradition here.
The 6 week cultural pre – festival starts June 5th. This is being managed by Ruth MacKenzie in the Cultural Olympiad team. It will involve stars from across the globe. (And probably none of us).
Further information will be published on the London 2012 website and involvement by the voluntary arts will be published by the Voluntary Arts Network, see their link for London 2012: http://www.voluntaryarts.org/cgi-bin/website.cgi?tier1=network&tier2=2012%20UK-wide%20cultural%20festival&fp=true
I would urge all sides to consider what they can do in the run-up to the Games. The torch relay will start on 18th May 2012, and the Games begin on 28th July. This is going to be a wonderful opportunity to publicise Morris locally, nationally and internationally, but it needs local sides to think creatively and “pitch” their ideas to local councils in January – you’ll need to find out who your local “Olympics Officer” is! It would be great to see Morris teams taking part in the Torch Relay and the local celebrations throughout the 70-day period.
The three Morris organisations are still working to get some inclusion of traditional dance into the Opening and Closing events, and I’ll keep you posted about any developments in this area.
President, The Morris Federation