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Our research on the cultural dimension of the Olympic Games

ICC Director, Dr Beatriz Garcia, has been conducting research on the Olympic Games’ cultural dimension since 1999, with a particular focus on the Cultural Olympiad (or official Olympic Arts Festivals).

Beatriz has conducted fieldwork on every single Summer and Winter Olympic Games host since Sydney 2000. From 2004 to 2010, she acted as academic observer and advisor to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and in 2011 she was appointed to conduct the London Cultural Olympiad Legacy Evaluation. Between 2008 and 2013, she was also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Research Grant Advisory Committee. Since 2015, she has acted as an external expert within the IOC Culture and Olympic Heritage Commission.

Reflections on Beatriz’s Olympic research are regularly published within the magazine she co-edits, Culture @ the Olympics.

Find below an overview of the main Olympic Games related projects Beatriz and the ICC team are currently conducting or have completed to date.

Current projects

Completed projects

  • Building cultural bridges between Olympic cities and the Olympic Movement (2015-2017) – Project funded by an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Advanced Research grant, involving fieldwork during the Rio 2016 Games and in Tokyo in the lead to the 2020 Olympic Games. The focus is on assessing the impact of the first Olympic Cultural Action Plan on opportunities for greater visibility and understanding of the Games cultural and artistic dimensions. This research aims to contribute to the Olympic cultural programme documentation process and subsequent transfer of knowledge, as well as raise questions about the complexities of developing sustainable cultural policy frameworks in the Olympic city.
  • Brand image of Brazil in the wake of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (2016-2017) – Project funded by a British Academy Newton Fund, involving a collaboration with the University of Sao Paulo, as well as inception funding from Brazilian communication agency Aberje. This research has enabled detailed analysis of national and international narratives of Brazil and its two main urban hubs, Rio and Sao Paulo, as centres for creativity and artistic innovation. The research asks the question: have the Olympic and Paralympic Games contributed (or hindered) the portrait of Brazil as a creative nation?
  • London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Legacy Evaluation (2011-2013) – Research commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad Steering Group, involving the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Arts Council England, Department Media Culture and Sport, Legacy Trust UK. The research looks into the cultural, social and related economic legacies of hosting this programme and the associated London 2012 Festival.
  • London 2012 Knowledge Transfer (2011-2012) Research coordinated by Dr Vassil Girginov with funding from Podium, the Further & Higher Education Unit for the London 2012 Games. Beatriz’ contribution is focused on the analysis of the bidding, delivery and legacy framework for the Cultural Olympiad and has resulted in a chapter contribution within a two part monograph, published by Routledge.
  • Cultural programming at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (2008 ) Research funded by the Universities’ China Committee in London. This project involved working as an embedded journalist within the Non-Accredited Media Centre at the Beijing Games and field observations of the various 2008 Olympic Arts Festivals and fringe cultural activities in the city during Games time.
  • Towards London 2012: Non-accredited Media, Cultural Discourses, and Olympic Host City Identity (2006-2008 ) Research funded by the British Academy. Beatriz undertook fieldwork at the Turin Winter Olympic Games (February 2006), pre-Olympic Beijing (September 2006) and regular observations with the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games (2006-7).
  • From Athens 2004 to London 2012: the contribution of non-accredited media centres to the Olympic Games host city (2004, in collaboration with Andy Miah, University of the West of Scotland) – Research funded by the British Academy. The project involved one month of field-work in Athens during the Olympic sport competitions (August 2004). This project had led to the creation of the specialist magazine Culture @ the Olympics. [View Research Summary | Research Diary]
  • Analysis of the programming, management and promotion of the Sydney 1997-2000 Olympic Arts Festivals(1999-2002) – Research supported by a Mobility Grant by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), an Olympic Research Grant by the Olympic Studies Centre at the UAB, and grants by the International Olympic Academy and the Olympic Museum –International Olympic Committee. The research results have been incorporated in my PhD Thesis, ‘Towards a Cultural Policy for Great Events’ and will be published within a monograph by Routledge in 2009.
  • Cultural Policy of the Olympic Movement. A review of cultural agendas and structures at the International Olympic Committee (2001) – Funded by the Postgraduate Research Grant Programme 2000 of the Olympic Museum and Olympic Studies Centre, International Olympic Committee.
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