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Govt plans biennial arts festival

17th August 2012 - 3:41pm

Following the enormous success of the Cultural Olympiad, the UK may soon play host to a biennial arts festival that celebrates the best of British literature, art and theatre, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has revealed.

The government has commissioned a feasibility study that will assess whether the country has the infrastructure and financial resources to stage an event that would highlight the UK's contribution to global arts.

Since the launch of the Cultural Olympiad earlier this year, more than 12 million people have taken part in the hundreds of events being held around the UK and many more are expected to attend in the run-up to the Paralympics.

Based on this, London 2012 chair Tony Hall and director Ruth Mackenzie are to assess the possibility of the festival becoming a regular occurrence, that could not only help to boost domestic and international tourism, but raise awareness of the country's theatre, art and literature scenes.

'We are delighted that the secretary of state has asked the Cultural Olympiad board to find a way to create a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Festival,' Mr Hall commented.

During the Cultural Olympiad, it is estimated that ten million people have taken part in free events such as the World Shakespeare Festival, while two million have attended paid-for attractions, including the BBC Proms and arts exhibitions by David Hockney and Damien Hirst.

Mr Hall said this illustrates that there is a widespread appetite for cultural entertainment.

The proposal has been welcomed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who said he is 'delighted that work is now starting to explore how the festival might evolve in the future'.

When the feasibility study is complete, Mr Hall and Ms Mackenzie will report back to Mr Hunt, who will then determine whether a London-based or UK-wide biennial arts festival is a realistic possibility and make an announcement soon after.

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