Gagging for Olympic Funding?

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have recently advertised some (Arts Council backed) opportunities for arts organisations, curators and producers to establish some participatory projects and temporary commissions for the areas immediately surrounding the Olympic Park site August 2010 to December 2011.

The applications can be made on the London 2012 organisers and the London Development Agency (LDA)’s online ‘dating agency’ website set up for the purpose of securing business contracts for London 2012 public sector work and other major contract opportunities.

Seeing as it’s necessary to register on the CompeteFor website to view these opportunities, my eyes were drawn to the final part of  section number 14.4 of their terms and conditions. Particularly section C:

14.4 You further agree not to:

(c) do anything which would have an adverse effect on or embarrass any Games Body, or any official supporter or sponsor of the Games.

The site’s facilities are available only to those who agree with these terms and conditions. Therefore anything which might potentially embarrass the Games Bodies, supporters or sponsors is forbidden for organisations who wish to sign up. Surely the sponsors of the 2012 Olympic have nothing to be embarrassed or even criticised about?

Oh right…

When they said “warming up”, perhaps BP and EDF took that literally? Which other sponsors might illicit some controversies? Surely not Coca Cola, McDonalds or Lloyds? Or British Airways even?

The page does not signify whether signing up to these terms and conditions includes any prior or future ’embarrassments’, potentially any groups, producers or curators who apply for the commission are blocked from it if in the past they have made any ’embarrassing’ comments or gestures towards any of these sponsors or the ODA.

Not only then are the proposed artists or groups commissioned for the project gagged from making any criticisms of these illustrious sponsors. But any who may have previously criticised these sponsors are not only excluded from the selection process but they’re not even allowed to use the CompeteFor website. The website claims it wants: “To ensure the transparency and availability of London 2012 opportunities maximising the number and diversity of businesses contributing to the London 2012 programme, and create a legacy of increased capacity and expertise.” Perhaps making organisations agree to their gagging order isn’t the best way to encourage ‘transparency’.