Olympic ceremonies will cost another £40m

The budget for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies has been doubled to over £80 million, it was announced today.

Ministers blamed the increased cost of security on the recruitment of 23 700 security guards to work at more than 100 competition and training venues. This brings the taxpayer’s contribution to venue security to £533 million. With the policing bill set at £475 million, the overall cost of Olympic security is now £1 billion.

Delivering the Government’s quarterly Olympic budget update today, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: “This money will not be spent on fireworks, it will not be money going up in smoke, it will be an important investment in the economic future of the country.”

He continued by saying that a meeting of the Prime Minister, the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and himself had decided that they “needed to maximise and promote London to the four billion television viewers after being presented with a wide range of ceremonial components across the ceremonies.”

Robertson acknowledged the current economic conditions but said that the potential benefits that could flow through enhanced tourism numbers justified the increase.

The extra cash will come from the Olympic contingency fund and the London 2012 project remains on course to come in at around the budgeted £9.3 billion.

Putting on a great show is important but what’s even more important is creating a lasting legacy – other than debt. Surely they’d be able to put on a few good shows for the original £40 million budgeted and then they could have spent the additional £40 million on something that would benefit the people of Britain in the future?

This is where we’d normally add a sarcastic comments about broken calculators, but this time we’re just going to let the numbers speak for themselves…

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’.

Luton focus of ‘Changing Britain’, Channel 4 News

Luton was the focus of the Channel 4 News piece ‘Changing Britain‘ aired on Tuesday 23rd March.

On the streets of Luton and in the context of it’s pronounced industrial and migrant history, Jon Snow’s report examined crime, unemployment and the benefit’s trap, and inviting local perspectives on the upcoming elections.

The Snowblog ‘Hats off for Luton’, published prior to the broadcast, recognises Luton as “merely the tip of a very British reality, a snapshot of a country with vast social challenges extending far beyond what we mainly talk about – fixing the deficit.”

Glenn Jenkins (who extends the discussion in A view from the Marsh Farm estate) and other Marsh Farm Outreach members also feature in the programme. Spectacle have been working with the group for over 15 years, most recently on our Poverty and Participation in the Media project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, but also during the early community activism and outreach principles of the Exodus Collective (now Leviticus and MFO), about whom Spectacle produced two films Exodus Movement of Jah People and Exodus from Babylon.