Evaluating legacies: Research, evidence and the regional impact of the Cultural Olympiad

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    From the bidding stage onwards, the London 2012 Olympics has been framed by an explicitly instrumental agenda, with objectives including increasing participation in sport in the UK and economic and physical regeneration in host sites, through investment in the Olympic Park and its surrounding infrastructure. The bid also signalled the ambition that London 2012 should be the first Olympics to deliver legacy through a nation-wide cultural programme in the build up to and alongside the Games [Kennell, J. & MacLeod, N. (2008, November 6-8). A memetic framework for the conceptualisation and evaluation of the Cultural Olympiad of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paper presented at the 2nd Bi-annual International Tourism Studies Association conference in Shanghai, China. Retrieved from http://gala.gre.ac.uk/3951/], deliberately putting in place infrastructure for each English region and nation, shortly after the bid's success was announced. The ensuing national Cultural Olympiad, part funded by Legacy Trust UK, was evaluated through a series of research exercises which aimed to document the legacy and impact of the cultural programme. Through the case study of a regional programme in the North West of England, "We Play", this article considers how evaluation research has been used locally to develop policy stories and legacy narratives which interpret and interact with the changing landscape of arts funding and cultural policy in the UK. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)29-41
    Number of pages12
    JournalCultural Trends
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


    • Cultural Olympiad
    • evaluation research
    • evidence-based policy
    • legacy
    • regional cultural policy


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