Forgive me if I sound naïve, but if I remember correctly one of the reasons we bid to host to the 2010 Games in the first place was to have the opportunity to showcase the best of Canada, B.C., and the host cities of Vancouver and Whistler. We were told in no uncertain terms that the Games would provide a venue to display our strengths in arts, culture, business and sports to the world, fuelling our national pride while attracting international visitors and investment.
So you’ll pardon me if I find it a little strange that the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) decided to hire an Australian company to produce the opening and closing ceremonies.
There’s no question that David Atkins Enterprises did a great job putting on the ceremonies for the Sydney Games in 2000 and is perfectly capable of doing the same for our Games in 2010. But I really have to wonder what VANOC’s choice says about Canada. Nothing good, I’m sure.
The opening and closing ceremonies are the most watched events of the Games, and are our best chance to show off all the wonderful things about Canada that I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Why on earth are we paying Australians to tell our story for us?
Is a few short years enough for David Atkins Enterprises to develop any kind of real understanding of our heritage and culture, or are we doomed to sit through ceremonies that showcase the Great White North from a Down Under perspective?
I think VANOC CEO John Furlong said it best, even as he was missing the point by hiring an Australian company to make Canada look good:
“Our goal is to create spectacular Ceremonies of which all Canadians can be proud. This incredible team (of Australians) has the proven passion and talent to develop magnificent Ceremonies that will celebrate the possible and share our great country (Canada) with the rest of the world.”
Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Is VANOC honestly saying that there isn’t a single Canadian company or individual out there capable of producing these ceremonies? I may have missed the obits, but are all of the people who helped to create the ceremonies for Montreal in 1976 and Calgary in 1988 dead?
Federally and provincially, Canada spends hundreds of millions of dollars on arts and culture every single year, far more per capita than many other industrialized countries, but it seems we still can’t be trusted to produce our own arts and culture events.