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Celebrating the Olympic countdown through arts and culture

PUBLISHED: 15:59 28 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

Celebrating the Olympic countdown through arts and culture

Celebrating the Olympic countdown through arts and culture

The Olympics and Paralympics are not just about sport. London 2012 is also a chance to celebrate our arts and culture and a unique project has been running in Kent aimed at doing just that.

The Olympics and Paralympics are not just about sport. London 2012 is also a chance to celebrate our arts and culture and a unique project has been running in Kent aimed at doing just that.


The Kent Cultural Baton is this converted silver Airstream caravan currently touring the county as a mobile arts space. Local people have been going onboard to share their stories of life here in Kent as part of a countywide project to collect local tales.


It was set up by Kent County Council, working with its creator, the artist Nicole Mollett, with the aim of offering a snapshot of Kents fascinating history as part of the cultural celebrations for 2012.


The resulting map will chart the many stories, photographs and drawings captured by artists from local people. It will build a permanent record for future generations and give residents a different perspective on the place where they live.


So far it has hosted artists exhibitions, interactive activities, performances and street theatre and has been visited by more than 6,000 people.


People in Northfleet have heard about lost gardens which were once the place for high society, inmates at Maidstone Prison created an exhibition to tell residents what life was like inside the historic walls and residents in Margate turned out in force
to celebrate the opening of the new Turner Contemporary gallery.


There is now even a band called, quite appropriately, The Batons, which was created as part of a project in Ashford. Prospective band members came onboard to show off their musical talents. So look out for them in the future, playing at a town near you.


Whitstable artist Jeremy Millar will be joining the Baton project to uncover the links between Folkestone and the acclaimed playwright Samuel Beckett.


Irish-born Beckett married in the town and even wrote one of his most famous plays, Happy Days, there in 1961. The film will be shown on
21 October inside the Baton at Folkestone Harbour, and at screenings in the town later in the year.


Writer and artist Iain Aitch took the Baton to various sites around Margate during May and recorded peoples stories and took photographs to uncover Margates youth culture. He called past followers of fashion from the town to come forward with their memories of Margate and Dreamland. The results will be on display at the Turner Contemporary as part of the Nothing in the World But Youth exhibition, running until 8 January.


Organisers of next years Olympics and Paralympics want to inspire as many people as possible to join in the excitement of the Games.


It will culminate in the London 2012 Festival, bringing leading artists from all over the world. Together they will showcase their work in the UKs biggest ever festival using dance, music, theatre, the visual arts and film to leave a lasting legacy for the arts in the UK.


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