Olympic City Critiques: a Birkbeck reading group

The Olympic Games literally and symbolically ‘take place’ in major cities. They represent the mega-event par excellence which not only physically transforms areas of cities beyond recognition but also shifts the urban place imaginary. City growth coalitions eagerly bid against other cities to win this world-class spectacle primarily for the boost it is supposed to impart to the local politics of urban regeneration. Researchers and activists over the last thirty years have highlighted how such grandiose visions and accelerated development projects produce spectacular but also highly inequitable outcomes for urban citizens. As with other neo-liberal regeneration programmes, the vital question of ‘who really benefits?’ is highly pertinent. However, many of the texts which researchers have produced are not well known or well understood outside the various academic specialisms within which they circulate. We are setting up a reading group open to students, academics, activists and other individuals interested in exploring the social, economic and political processes of these spectacular urban mega-events from critical perspectives.

The first meeting of the Olympic City Critiques reading group will take place at Birkbeck in central London on Wed 30 March 2011 12-2pm (Room 351, Malet Street).
The second meeting will be on Wed 27 April 12-2pm (Room 253, Malet Street). Subsequent meetings will be two weeks apart.

The paper ‘Going for Gold: Globalizing the Olympics, Localizing the Games’ by J.R. Short, provides a useful introduction to the topics we will be discussing, and I can email it to anyone interested in attending. The paper discusses the siting of the Summer Olympic Games at the global, national and local scales: the increasing corporatization of the Games is examined, and their use in city marketing campaigns is evaluated.

If you are interested in joining the reading group, please send an email to Dr. Paul Watt.

We look forward to seeing you at what will hopefully prove to be a stimulating reading group series.

Paul & Martin

Dr Paul Watt (p.watt@bbk.ac.uk)
Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies
Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies
Birkbeck, University of London

Martin Slavin
member of the East End based group Games Monitor
a network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development processes.

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ETOA claims Olympics are bad for tourism

The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has warned that the 2012 Olympic games would be harmful to Britain’s tourism industry. The ETOA has published research from cities who previously hosted the Olympic Games, which shows it has a “profoundly disruptive” effect on local tourism. They describe the official estimates for the number of visitors as “exaggerated”. The association warned: “Normal tourist businesses suffer during the Games period . . . The region around the Games can suffer more than the host city . . . The impression that everything will be overcrowded and overpriced blights a region . . . [and] these difficulties are exacerbated by exaggerated claims of the benefits derived from the Games.”

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is drumming up a further 8000 voluntary positions for the role of “London Ambassadors”, which would involve helping the vast increase of tourists and visitors in 2012 to find their way around the city. So no paid tourism jobs there.

They can perhaps help shepherd the 70,000 unpaid volunteers in McDonald’s regalia.

Job anyone?

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London 2012 Olympics Logo – Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station Community Group urge you to take the chance to nominate Battersea Power Station landmark to be used as the design on a set of commemorative pin badges. We here at Spectacle thought about just how great an opportunity this is to raise awareness about Battersea Power Station and the current state it’s in.

You are able to submit one vote on the landmark of your choice, and so this is a very good chance to kick-start some action dealing with the Battersea Power Station problems!

The website can be found here

Visit Spectacle’s on-going Battersea Power Station Project

Watch a video trailer here: Battersea Power Station – The Story So Far

Subscribe to our newsletter mailing list, visit our contact page to subscribe

If you live in the neighbourhood and would like to get involved, contact us here putting Battersea Power Station in your message.

Click here for more Battersea Power Station links

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Are only wealthy sports going to benefit from the olympics?

The current batch of medals being won by team GB in Beijing seem to be centre around sports mainly, not exclusively, practised by the well-off. These include sports such as  sailing and rowing that require large amounts of expensive equipment. The idea of the Olympics having a large number of participants maybe distorted if further focus and funding is given to these already affluent sports because they are going to bring in Gold.

However smaller sports that are not going win gold or clubs that are not linked to the olympic triumph will lose out on funding. This is highlighted by the example of the Europa Gym in Erith, Kent which is facing closure despite playing a vital role in the community. Its rent has recently increased by £30,00 forcing, Yvonne and Len, who run the gym, to sell their house and move into the property. Despite providing an essential space for gymnastic and boxing in a deprived area as well as featuring in the award winning dance film ‘GOLD’ by the Spectacle, the gym receives no core funding and is being left out to dry by the Sport England.

Is the legacy of the 2012 Olympics going to be a full trophy cabinet or really engaging young people with sport?



For more information on Spectacles Olympic Project please visit our Project Page

For Spectacles latest film on the Olympics please visit our archive page.



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