Each edition of the Cultural Olympiad usually runs for four years and sees Olympic host cities organise a wide range of events and performances, spanning a wide variety of art genres, which help to engage people in the build-up to the Games.
Sochi’s cultural programme began in 2010 and has so far incorporated thousands of different cultural events, including concerts, festivals, shows, films, exhibitions, and art installations – each offering the best that Russia’s cultural scene has to offer.
With events being held both in the host city and around the country, the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad has presented unique opportunities for people to take part in one of the most important cultural projects in Russia, while also experiencing the growing excitement ahead of the country’s first Winter Games.
"The Olympic Winter Games are not just global sporting events that capture the attention of the world a few moments in advance; the Games begin long before the lighting of the flame in the main stadium,” explains Sochi 2014 President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko. "The Cultural Olympiad creates an atmosphere of anticipation for the Games.”
Each year of the Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad has been dedicated to a different area of the arts, with 2010 being the Year of Cinema and 2011 being the Year of Theatre. In 2012, events took place as part of the Year of Music, while 2013 will be the Year of Museums. The most popular events over the four-year period will then be showcased during the final stage of the Cultural Olympiad, which will be held during next year’s Winter Games.
“The Sochi 2014 Cultural Olympiad is a unique project,” adds Chernyshenko. “It includes both grand, large-scale set-pieces and events showing cultural life in Russia’s various regions. Thanks to this, we are able to present to the world the ‘patchwork quilt’ that is Russia's rich and diverse culture.”
The Cultural Olympiad festivities kicked off in Sochi in May 2010 with a spectacular 3D show and a concert by Russian rock star Garik Sukachev. Subsequent events have included the International Sports Films Festival, the Cinema Without Barriers Festival, shows by the Kuban Cossack Chorus and a gala performance by ballet stars from St Petersburg’s renowned Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky theatres.
“One of the main aims of the Cultural Olympiad is to bring together the best of Russian culture and demonstrate its value to residents and guests in the country,” says Chernyshenko. “We have some very exciting cultural activities to show the world and the Cultural Olympiad gives us the perfect opportunity to do so.”
In 2012, the Year of Music saw almost half a million spectators attend more than 1,000 events across Russia, including the International AquaJazz Festival and the Red Rocks music festival, which featured performances by the Scissor Sisters and White Lies.
Over the next 12 months, the Year of Museums will see a wide range of events taking place, including online exhibitions, art tours of Sochi and virtual tours around the museums of Russia.
As Chernyshenko explains: “Although the Olympic Winter Games are taking place in 2014 we can already see the positive impact they are having today.”