London 2012: Welsh cultural Olympiad projects launched

Wales' contribution to the 2012 cultural Olympiad has been launched.

Led by the Arts Council of Wales (ACW), Power of the Flame consists of five projects across the country.

It is funded by Legacy Trust UK, a charity set up to create a cultural and sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

ACW chair Dai Smith said the scheme would engage with the young people of Wales to deliver a lasting legacy of creativity.

Led by Arts Council of Wales, the Power of the Flame projects was unveiled at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

ACW said the projects would involve eight Welsh heritage sites, from Caernarfon Castle to Blaenavon Ironworks, it would look at the history of our sportsmen and women, engage Wales' disabled young artists, its Eisteddfodic traditions and would forge links with South Africa.

Mr Smith said the events would bring together "unlikely groups" to work for a common goal.

"The aim of this ambitious programme of events and activities is to inspire and engage with the children and young people of Wales to deliver a lasting legacy of creativity beyond the next four years and beyond the Olympics themselves," he said.

"Ultimately it is up to the people of Wales to make the most of the situation, and to leave a legacy with a uniquely Welsh flavour."

Moira Swinbank, chief executive of Legacy Trust UK, said the five projects would involve a diverse range of cultural activity.

'Lasting legacy'

"Our mission is to leave a lasting legacy from London 2012 across the UK and with these fantastic individual projects now part of the pan-Wales Power of the Flame programme, we are confident that the legacy of our funding will continue in the country long after the Games have ended," she said.

Critics have challenged the need for a cultural Olympiad during recessionary times, but Gwyn Williams, creative programmer for the Olympiad in Wales, defended its £3m cost.

Mr Williams told BBC Radio Wales: "This is an opportunity for the young people of Wales to develop their creativity in response to what is after all the greatest show in the world coming to London.

"We've had to work very hard to get this money. It's been inspiring a whole new generation of young people.

"We've engaged with 48,000 people, young people of Wales."

Phil Cope, who is coordinating one of the projects, Following the Flame, said critics should ask the "tens of thousands of real people" involved in the project for their reaction to it.

"One of the things we've discovered is that we have a very bad memory, particularly of some of our greatest heroes in Wales," he said.

"Who's heard of [swimmer] Paulo Redmillavic, Wales' greatest Olympian? Where's the statue of [freestyle swimmer] Irene Steer, Wales' first Olympic medal winner? [Swimmer] Valerie Davies? [Weightlifter] David Morgan?

"Our project is about celebrating Welshness."

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