Two days into the Winter Olympic Games, my Cultural Olympiad hightlights are as follows:
- Dual cultural programming: Cultural Olympiad / Culture 2018 Plus
- Dedicated transport: Cultural Olympiad Shuttle
- Dedicated colours: Hot pink branding for culture
- Korean fun: K-Pop Festa
- Art + Sport links at Games info points
Cultural Olympiad / Culture 2018 Plus
- Cultural Olympiad information is distributed through two interrelated channels:
- the official Games (Cultural Olympiad) website, managed by the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, focusing on activity happening within the Olympic Park and Olympic Plaza
- the culture2018.com website, which operates in parallel and focuses on activity happening outside the Olympic venues. This is the programme with highest visibility in Gangneung, the main city/urban environment at these Games
Cultural Olympiad Shuttle
- The main Culture 2018 venues can be accessed through a dedicated shuttle, that has proved very popular with locals and Olympic tourists alike. It takes you to the beach areas, where two nightly shows take place (one dedicated to fire, another to the moon), as well as to the main site of the area’s contemporary Biennale (dedicated to exploring a ‘Dictionary of Evil’, quite an interesting choice, at Games time!). The shuttle also takes audiences to a selection of theatre spaces, where one of the top highlights takes place, what organisers name Korea’s response to ‘Cirque du Soleil’, including performances by the troupes who presented work at the Opening Ceremony.
Hot Pink branding
- Pyeongchang 2018 is following on the steps of London 2012 by choosing hot pink as the colour of choice for its Cultural Olympiad. This is combined with a striking emblem, based on the Korean alphabet (‘hangeul’) which is representative of Korean cultural heritage.
- Alongside a wide range of traditional craft displays and presentations of Korean heritage, the cultural programme makes an emphasis on fun and K-Pop is a top highlight throughout. K-Pop acts are present nightly at the Medals Plaza, following on the presentation of medals to the athletes. Beyond this, a special ‘Festa’, bringing the most popular bands of the moment, was also put together on the first night of the Games. The event was a memorable open air stravaganza, fit to combat the staggeringly freezing temperatures at these Games
Art+Sport links: Visibility of the cultural offer throughout official Games info points
- Every edition of the Games brings along a cultural programme. However, the cultural programme tends to be promoted outside the main sporting venues, focusing on traditional arts audiences & media as opposed to Games fans and sport journalists. In Pyeongchang, I have observed a clear committment to including Cultural Olympiad highlight brochures within all sporting venues information points. The programme that is promoted are the activities taking place within the Games arenas as opposed to the ‘Culture 2018 Plus’ programme. It is just a partial aspect of the Cultural Olympiad, but it is at least a visible dimension of these Games, with higher chances than other editions at being picked up by classic sport journalists.
I will be assessing next whether any of these dimensions are being picked up by international media and getting include in the global narrative of these Games – or whether the Cultural Olympiad remains, as it is most commonly the case, a PyeongChang communities affair.