We were overwhelmed by the willingness of the sector to get involved and we saw some fantastic events – from Billy Bragg at the Southbank to dancing mechanical diggers in Sheffield and Derby. I'm hoping that we can repeat the experience again next year.
Francesca Canty, UK Cultural Programmes Adviser
I'm looking forward to seeing more Inspire projects in action. To mention just a few, on the 14 March in Belfast there'll be the concert performance for Pied Piper, led by Brian Irvine and the Ulster Orchestra, Our Sporting Life has its big launch in the spring and watch this space for more information on something called Animation Decathlon...I'm also excited about how our new (much more interactive) Culture pages on the London 2012 site are shaping up, and these should go live early next year. We've got several of our 'major projects' launching in the New Year too, and it feels great to be kicking off the year with specific opportunities for artists to get involved.
I also want to be travelling around the UK even more than I have this year, because when I'm out and about, hearing about everyone's exciting ideas and plans, it reminds me why I do my job in the first place. The UK is grabbing the opportunities presented by the Games with both hands and feet. There's so much talent and enthusiasm out there!
Steve Mannix, Cultural Programmes Advisor
2008 has been a whirlwind of a year and what a summer! Beijing and the success of the Games was amazing. It's been a real joy to get around the UK and meet so many people who are starting to plan how they will contribute to 2012. I'm really looking forward to more of that feeling in 2009. It's been a real honour to participate in some of the Handover events in 2008, I'll never forget running around the Mall trying to make sure things were in place before the thousands of revellers turned up for the Handover celebrations.
And to watch as people came together to celebrate the launch of the Cultural Olympiad really inspired me. London 2012 is about doing things differently and we are - watch out for lots of new opportunities for artists of all ages and experiences! Happy New Year - and get some rest over the holiday period as we've got a lot to do!!!!
Keith Khan, Artistic Executive
2009 will be an exciting year as we continue supporting young creative talent, and looking at how the Cultural Olympiad could engage with and provide an offer to the creative industries not just in London but as part of the UK wide cultural plans and activities. We've all learnt a lot from 2008 and have share in great goals as the Cultural Olympiad develops. 2009 will see the development of a carnival project, which looks at how work from around the world can find a place within the cultural programme - as well as provide a spectacular way to celebrate Games-time - with 'free' and 'outdoors' being our description of carnival - thus embracing everything from parades to pavilions. I look forward to sharing more great experiences in 2009.
Jesscia Matthews, Business Manager
As the newest member of the Culture team my top things from 2009 were the away day in Kew Gardens which involved some good brainstorming, tree walking, a team picnic and traditional afternoon tea, odd you might think but it was the best way of learning about the team, and what they're up to. The launch of Open Weekend at the Tate was fabulous, watching the clear link between sport and art got me very excited about how we can link this more and more in the future. The success of the Open Weekend has meant that this has the potential to become something even bigger in the coming years. 2009 looks set to be a busy year with the launch of major projects, events and I'm sure so much more will unfold as the year progresses!
...And there you have it. It's hard to sum it all up so neatly. As you can see the actual Culture team is made up of very few but we did have help from a number of people brought in to help make all this happen and we'd like to thank them for being an integral part of launching the Cultural Olympiad - they know who they are. The New Year for me will be a mix bag I imagine. I won't be working on Create anymore but I will continue to work on my own publication and I’ll take with me the lessons learnt from this past year and my time with London 2012. Have a very happy New Year!