London 2012: 2012 Festival director Ruth Mackenzie answers your questions

  • 26 April 2012
  • From the section UK
Ruth Mackenzie
Image caption Cultural Olympiad director Ruth Mackenzie

The full London 2012 Festival programme launched on Thursday, the culmination of the cultural events surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To mark the launch, the BBC hosted a live online Q&A session with Ruth Mackenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad, with the questions supplied by you.

The festival pulls together major spectacles such as the staging of Shakespeare's plays in 37 languages and the recent David Hockney exhibition, as well as smaller events.

Some 12,000 performances, exhibitions, installations and festivities are planned across the UK until September.

The organisers say it will be the most exciting festival the country has ever seen - but critics have questioned whether people understand the pairing of the arts with the Olympics.

You put your questions to Ms Mackenzie in a live Twitter session and via email. Here are her answers:

Q: from Zoe Rose: I didn't even realise there was a Cultural Olympiad until today. Where do I find more info on events/tickets?

A: Easy - sign up at for 10m free tickets UK-wide.

Q: from Ruth Heritage: How can we build legacy in face of cuts to nurture emergent orgs /talent to reach standards of Royal De Luxe's Sea Odyssey?

A: With best ever programme of free spectaculars to build cultural tourism to the UK (well done on Sea Odyssey)

Q: from Dave Pratt: Middlesbrough Council recently cancelled an annual concert - is anything planned for the Tees Valley?

A: We just announced amazing Africa Express in Middlesbrough on Sep 3 - see you there! Plus Big Dance, Story Lab, Peace Camp locally.

Q: from Bandstand Marathon: It's a fantastic programme! Are the majority of the events free?

A: Total 10m free tickets & opportunities UK wide inc Bandstand Marathon. You have said 500 bandstands so far, well done

Q: from ISM: We're the professional association for musicians. Will you commit to not asking prof. musicians to perform for free/below min wage?

A: We're on record saying all our partners like BBC, ABO Orchestras etc offer their normal terms

Q: from Taylor Phillips: How close to reality is the satirical comedy Twenty Twelve, and has it caused you any problems?

A: Hilariously true! I follow @hughbon with great joy! I invited the show to be in @London2012Fest but they said no #tragic

Q: from Harry Hayfield: Would like to know whether #AskRuth believes that Scotland and Wales are feeling left out of the Cultural Olympiad? I'm an amateur thespian.

A: Just done @London2012Fest launches in Cardiff & Glasgow to good response & see @TheRSC for acting opportunities

Q: from Nigel Knuckey: Tim Minchin at Eden Project was previously announced as a paid event. How do you apply for free tickets?

A: You can apply for free tickets via but you are right @TimMinchin @edenproject is a paid ticketed event

Image caption Siobhan Sharpe will have to battle on with her current salary

Q: from Twenty Twelve's Siobhan Sharpe: ‏Can I have a pay rise please?

A: Hi Siobhan everything I know I learnt from you. But we are on budget & on time, so no pay rise!

Q: from Peter Brine: Why has every attempt to include traditional folk music, morris dancing & Scottish dancing been blocked?

A: We already have morris dancing, folk dance & Scottish dancing in Big Dance But please sign up as more welcome

Q: from Martin Polley: What opportunities will there be for arts projects in #London2012fest to take a critical line on the Olympic Games?

A: Really important to say all 25,000 artists in @London2012Fest are free to express themselves freely

Q: from David Sith: We had an amazing event in Bristol last yr with painted gorillas around the city - anything similar planned?

A: We announced today See No Evil in @London2012Fest programme - largest street art & music event yet in Bristol with AntiVJ & more

Q: from Gurmaj: Some arts critics have said that the musical aspect of the Cultural Olympiad is underwhelming - what's your response?

A: Wow! With BBC Proms & BBC Radio 1 Hackney line-ups, new artists for BT River of Music & more, what more could you ask?

Q: from John Kirk: What do you think the Cultural Olympiad's significance and legacy will be for young audiences?

A: Loads of chances to learn creative skills with great artists on West End stages & venues around UK. I hope this inspires next gen

Q: from Art Not Oil: Is BP really an ethical Olympiad partner, given its need to pump unsustainable fossil fuels to market?

A: BP's long-term sponsorship makes arts & Olympics possible. See website for info on sustainable Games

Q: from Lidia Best & Clare Hedley: How many events will be captioned for deaf & hard of hearing ppl - and is there a list?

A: Most of our cultural partners have great policies for deaf & hard of hearing plus Unlimited showcases deaf artists

Q: from Liberate Tate: Do artists taking part in Cultural Olympiad have to sign contracts forbidding them to criticise sponsors?

A: None of our sponsors, cultural partners, let alone artists would accept such an idea. The artists are free

Q: from Stuart Elliot: With so many other sporting/cultural events this year how are you going to ensure the cultural Olympiad gets noticed?

A: Good question. Please retweet @London2012Fest ! #happybirthdayshakespeare trended this week - good start #AskRuth

Q: from Charlie Corn: With the eyes of the world on London, how do you think the CO will be a) covered and b) perceived abroad?

A: With 40,000 journos from round the world we have best chance to show off our creativity to a world audience

Q: from Mark Thompson: Will there be a Scrabble tournament?

A: Is Scrabble sport or art? Should we campaign to make it an #Olympic sport? I am still fighting for quidditch!

PS: Are you the Director General of the BBC? If so can I have a job after @London2012Fest finishes

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