By Alexandra Oxborough
For the thousands who missed out on Olympics tickets, consolation is at hand.
The Cultural Olympiad, a nationwide programme of arts events launched in 2008.
So far something of a damp squib in Sussex, it is hotting up as the London 2012 Games draw closer.
Offering everything from world class theatre to walking tours, the Cultural Olympiad will give everyone the opportunity to get into the Olympic spirit.
Even those who have no intention of getting into any spirit more adventurous than a double scotch may find the variety and quality of the planned events tempts them to abandon their misgivings.
The grand finale of the Cultural Olympiad, the confusingly titled London 2012 Festival, will run from the 21st June to the 9th September 2012.
Not only the largest ever UK cultural festival, the London 2012 Festival will be the largest in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
An impressive feat for a Little Britain mired in incessant apocalyptic economic headlines and a boost for an arts sector depressed by vicious cuts to arts funding.
Here follows a taster of the events planned.
The highlight for Sussex is without doubt Alan Ayckbourn —Two Plays, at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester from the 1st July to the 13th October 2012.
The world famous playwright will be directing two of his own works, one a classic and one written especially for the Festival.
In equal measures tragic and comic his plays are like watching Usain Bolt sprint, effortlessly powerful and entertaining.
Also near Chichester, an exhibition of Turner prize winning artist Tony Cragg’s work at the Cass Sculpture Foundation from the 21st June to the 4th November 2012 should prove to be intriguing.
His swirling abstract sculptures will be displayed to advantage when set against the swell of Goodwood’s rolling Downland.
For more information see: Cass Sculpture Foundation
In Bexhill-on-Sea, art deco gem the De La Warr Pavilion will be embellished by an installation inspired by the ending of The Italian Job.
By spatial trickster Richard Wilson, a replica bus, complete with gold bullion, will teeter from the De La Warr’s rooftop.
Worth a visit, if only to trot out Michael Caine impressions.
For more information see: De La Warr Pavilion
Brighton too will be treated to some top class culture, with Gold Run, a collaboration between Glyndebourne, Pallant House Gallery and Carousel, the UK’s only arts organisation led by people with learning difficulties.
In a performance inspired by the Paralympic Games, and to celebrate the return of athletes with learning disabilities to the Games after a 12-year ban, this intriguing event will feature sculpture, film and a 30-piece choir.
Premiering at Glyndbourne on the 1st April 2012, the production will later move on to the Brighton Dome and Chichester Festival Theatre.
For more information see: Glyndebourne
At the Great Gardens of Sussex, Borde Hill, Wakehurst Place, High Beeches and Nymans, the Goat and Monkey theatre company will stage an interactive theatre performance, The Seed, where the audience will become hunters.
Happily not for small defenceless furry things, but for clues to solving
Treasure is promised, but no dates have yet been announced.
For more information see: Goat and Monkey
Touring all over the South East The Boat Project, one of 12 ‘Artists Taking the Lead’ projects nationwide funded by the Arts Council, is unsurprisingly, a boat.
Built with memory laden wooden objects donated by people from across the region, it will be both a seaworthy vessel and an archive of stories.
Visiting Brighton from the 19th to 27th May 2012 and Hastings from the 7th to 10th July, each stop will bring a mini festival to the town with music, dance and boat rides planned.
For more information see: The Boat Project
And finally… for people who fear that if they attend a cultural event they may at any moment be forced to applaud someone named Tarquin expressing how wearing sunglasses makes him feel through the medium of dance, there are walking tours.
Self-guided by maps which are available for download
Walk the World participants will be able to follow trails exploring the links between their local area and the 206 nations participating in the Olympic Games, and if they so fancy, share their experiences online.
Walks have already been registered in Brighton, Lewes and Rye, and more will be available ahead of the London 2012 Festival.
For more information see: Walk the World