Webinar: Can we live without mega events?

In her role as observer and chronicler of the Cultural Olympiad, Dr Beatriz GARCIA (Member, IOC Culture & Olympic Heritage Commission) has discussed the possibilities for a cultural narrative in a postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games edition. Her reflections on the subject, prompted by the major international lockdown in March 2020, are accessible on her linked-in blog, “When the Games can’t go on …”.

It is also her pleasure to invite us all to the public lecture she will be giving on the 26th November on behalf of the School of the Arts at the University of Liverpool. In this lecture She will discuss: ‘Can we live without mega events?’

The public is invited to register for this free webinar.

Can we live without mega events? Cities, major events and euphoria as platforms for story-telling, reinvention and identity building.

This talk, originally branded “Every city tells a story,” marks the end of the University of Liverpool 2020 Public Lecture series on Beauty | Time | Utility.

The arrival of Covid-19 has transformed the world we live in and put all major cultural events and festivals on hold. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed. The 2020 Edinburgh Festival has been cancelled. The hosting of European Capitals of Culture across the EU is being postponed and requiring careful reinvention. Fashion Weeks, Art Biennials, Theatre and Film Festivals everywhere are exploring their virtual options.

When may we gather in public again, to celebrate? Will city squares and iconic buildings recover their symbolic place as settings for major cultural interventions that can shape the collective memories of generations?

Beatriz Garcia takes us on a swift journey through over 150 years of major events and festivals that transformed the way we understand their host cities and nations: from Universal Exhibitions to the Olympic Games and the European Capital of Culture initiative. She will tell us the story of cities like Glasgow in 1990, Barcelona in 1992, Sydney in 2000, Liverpool in 2008, London in 2012, Marseille in 2013 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. They all used a major-event to put new stories of place forward and reinvent their narrative, sometimes with mixed success.

Beatriz will also tell us the story of Tokyo, a city that was working on the ‘reconstruction Games’, using the 2020 Olympics as a platform to tell us of a new creative Japan. Now postponed into 2021 and with important question marks as to their feasibility, this may need to be a Games edition that tells the story of a whole world in reconstruction: Opening and Closing ceremonies are being rewritten. New global stories are being conceived.

In the meantime, in the UK, a new festival is being promoted: Festival UK * 2022, with the ambition to heal a nation divided by Brexit. How will this Festival be embraced? Who needs it? What stories can it tell?

In this public lecture we will discuss our human need for mega-events and festivals and their importance to city life, city projection and city building. With or without a pandemic, can we live without mega events?