The research intersections between Zaiontz and Dickinson are striking and provide much of the foundation for their co-organized conference “The Life and Death of Arts in Cities after Mega Events,” to be held at SFU Woodward’s from August 13th-16th. Zaiontz herself performed in the London Paralympic Opening Ceremonies as “Whirler 254,” and in her writing takes on the question of the “inside” vs. “outside” politics of performance and audience. Similarly, Dickinson’s book World Stages, Local Audiences examines global politics and audience/event relationships—particularly in a chapter comparing performances of cultural and national identity that were reinforced during such mega events as Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics and Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics.
Zaiontz’s position as both insider and outsider was key to her ability to examine the complicated politics of London 2012. While performing as “Whirler 254”, she was also teaching at Queen Mary (University of London), located a few tube stops away from the part of East London where much urban development was happening as a result of the games. Zaiontz explains how it was “a very strange time in terms of the ascendance on the one hand of disability arts within the Cultural Olympiad, and on the other hand the fact that there were these massive austerity cuts being made to independent living of people who are disabled in the UK.”