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5.1 Securing Sustainable Legacies through Cultural Programming in Sporting Event, pp.1-10

5.1 Securing Sustainable Legacies through Cultural Programming in Sporting Event, pp.1-10



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Published by Professor Andy Miah

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Published by: Professor Andy Miah on Feb 21, 2008
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Culture @ the Olympics
, 2003: vol. 5, issue 1, pp. 1-10
Culture @ the Olympics
issues, trends and perspectives
Securing sustainable legacies throughcultural programming in sporting events
Dr Beatriz García
After the close of the 2002Olympic Winter Games, thecity of Salt Lake faces thedifficult challenge to keepits status as a world city, anattractive destination fortourists and an active,promising place for thelocals.Introduction
Salt Lake City has receivedinternational acclaim for theability to stage a very successfuledition of the Olympic WinterGames in year 2002. This successhas particular merit consideringthe difficult politicalcircumstances leading to andsurrounding the Olympic period,in particular, the high securityalert established throughout theUS after September 11
.To their credit, the Winter Gamesorganisers were able to gather anunprecedented contingent ofsecurity forces without affectingthe festive atmosphere of theGames. Furthermore, theiremphasis on securing thetransparency and accountabilityof the event management,assisted eliminating the darktraces left by the major scandalssubsequent to their winning thebid that resulted in anunprecedented ‘Olympic crisis’between 1998 and 1999.However, such a valuableachievement is no guarantee of aprovision of legacies beneficialfor the host citizens and regionalneighbours in the long-term.Regardless of claims by the localauthorities that the level ofactivity surrounding the sportingcompetitions - from streetentertainment to shoppingfacilities - surpassed any priorfestival initiative in the Utahcapital and the State at large,some important question arise:Will Salt Lake city be able tosustain the hype? Were the twoOlympic weeks in Februaryrepresentative of the existing andpotential ways of life in the area?Did the experience bring anylesson worth sustaining?And, in case it was worthwhile,has any mechanism beenestablished to secure itssustainability?
www.culturalolympics.org.ukGarcía, 2003:
Olympic Legacies
Purpose and background
This paper argues that a way ofensuring the sustainability ofhosting major sporting events isto ground them on culturalelements that are representativeand distinctive of the hostcommunity. The argument isbased on the research undertakenby García (2001) to support theclaim that the marketing of sportsevents can be maximised throughcultural and arts extensions:
From a marketing perspective,understanding sports events asmoments of symbolic significancethat are affected by cultural contextsand values, opens new doors forevent promotions. More specifically,it suggests that the appreciation ofsports events can be enhancedthrough the implementation ofactivities that can increase socialinteraction, personal identificationor subjective valuations. […] Artsand cultural programs can adoptsuch a role and be a key enhancer ofthe sports event experience.Subsequently, it is argued that artsand culture can play a relevant partin the event marketing strategy.Under this premise, this paper hasthe purpose to assist sportmarketers to identify whichelements should be sustained,modified or eliminated to maximisethe benefits that culturalprogramming can bring withinsports promotions (García 2001:194).
The paper is also a complementto claims that the success of greatsports events should not bemeasured solely in economicterms but also considering itssocial impacts at length.A common problem in theexisting literature, including ahigh percentage of the evaluationreports following the staging ofmajor sporting events such as theOlympic Games, is the emphasisput on measuring short tomedium-term economic impacts(see McKay & Plumb 2001;PriceWaterhouse Coopers 2002).This suggests that there may be ashortage of social and culturalassessment of major events.Indeed, the challenge here is theintangible nature of social andcultural impacts and theconsequent difficulty to providequantitative measurements ontheir evolution and sustainability.However, any attempt tounderstand the true legacies ofstaging an event of the size andcomplexity of the Olympics mustconsider these implicit orintangible aspects. This isbecause, beyond the financialgain of investors and other keystakeholders, and beyond thenotions of success celebrated bythe media, one of the mostrelevant proofs of the event’sability to leave meaningfullegacies is its effect on the cultureof the host population (seeCashman 1999; Klausen 1999). AsCashman argues,
Implicit in the bid to win the rightto stage the Games are manyuntested and even vague statementsabout how the staging of the Gamesmay bring long-term benefit to acity and a country. Given that thelocal community invests so much in
www.culturalolympics.org.ukGarcía, 2003:
Olympic Legacies
the Games, it is important that thewider benefits of legacy should becanvassed and articulated. Toooften costs and benefits narrowlyfocus solely on economics.However, legacy involves castingthe gaze wider to poetry and arts,architecture, the environment,information and many other non-tangible factors (Cashman 1999:192).
The Olympic Games offer aparticularly relevant ground forexploring the broad social andcultural legacies of hosting anevent. It is commonly argued thatthe event stands out as a uniqueexperience for participants,spectators, organisers and hostsat large. This cannot be explainedmerely on the basis of theexcellence of the sportingcompetitions, but moreimportantly because of its beingrooted in an idiosyncratictradition of symbols and ritualsunder the auspices of theOlympic Movement.The Torch Relay, Opening andClosing ceremonies are used acatalyst to portray the host cityand/or nation, and to celebrate –or stage – fundamental Olympicprinciples such as peace, youthand world understanding (seeMacAloon 1984 & 1996; Moragas1992). Furthermore, the strongvalues associated with theOlympic flag, the anthem andother pageantry elements make itimpossible to confuse theOlympics with any other eventand add to it a very potentemotional dimension that hasbeen able to survive more than acentury.Proof of the significance of thesedistinctive symbols and rituals isfound in the growing trendtowards incorporating similarelements within other majorsporting events. TheCommonwealth Games arepreceded by a ‘Baton Relay’ andframed by an Opening andClosing ceremony incorporatingparades, oaths, hymns and thearrival of the Baton (or the Torch)in an almost identical fashion tothe Olympics. Also, notably, theFootball World Cup is payingprogressively more attention toits ceremonial aspects as it wasspectacularly demonstrated by Japan and Korea in the Cup’slatest edition. A similar trend is tobe found in smaller scale sportsevents such as the EuropeanChampionships.However, despite the visibilityand recognised impacts of theOlympic symbology on hostcommunities and event viewers,a common limitation in terms ofsustained legacy is that it hasoften been transferred from onehost-city to the next withoutmajor attention being paid to theparticular character of the place.Even when the intention has beento portray the host values, it canbe argued that, often, theseportrays have constrained anysense of locality into tokengestures (García & Miah 2000;Tomlinson 1996). This is partlybecause key elements such as

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