2010 Cultural Olympiad impact study

Author/s:  Duncan Low

Creation date: 2010-08-10

Contact info: djlow@sfu.ca

Senior supervisor:  Peter V. Hall

Keywords:  Cultural Olympiad, arts, culture, government arts funding

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: What evidence exists to support the premise that hosting a cultural olympiad provided Vancouver’s professional arts and cultural sector with positive and substantive legacies, sustained material and financial benefits, and increased national and international profile?


The professional arts and culture industry represents a substantial sector of the Canadian economy. This is even more true in British Columbia, which has larger percentage of its labour force in arts occupations than any other Canadian province (as of 2009). Therefore, any event that could have an impact on the sustainability of the arts and culture sector should be of interest to a wide audience. When it comes to the Olympic Games, while there is a substantial body of literature about the games and their effects on urban regeneration, local economies and the the role of arts and culture, there has been relatively little attention to the relationship between olympic organizing committees and their impacts on local arts and cultural sectors before, during and after the games. This research aims to help fill that knowledge gap and illustrate, through a series of case studies, Vancouver’s experience of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.


The author found little evidence in the data he collected to support the premise that hosting the cultural olympiad provided Vancouver’s professional arts and cultural sector as a whole with increased national and international profile, nor sustained material and financial benefits. The evidence for providing positive and substantive legacies was mixed, with the upgrading of Vancouver’s civic theatres serving as one example of such a legacy.