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29 February 2012

From 8 March Global Rainbow is being projected from Preston across the region and beyond for four nights to open the year’s London 2012 cultural celebrations in the North West.

Global Rainbow will launch WE PLAY Challenge at Preston‟s Harris Museum and Art Gallery on 8 March where Olympians including Team GB‟s Triple Jump gold medallist Jonathan Edwards will join leading artists and dignitaries. WE PLAY Challenge is the North West‟s call to the region‟s public to get involved in London 2012 and to leave a lasting legacy of their own by taking part in a journey inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A journey which starts and finishes in Preston – opening with the WE PLAY Challenge and closing with WE PLAY Expo, the North West‟s finale event for London 2012, from 7-9 September.

Kicking off with Global Rainbow, hundreds of exciting events and activities are taking place across the North West from March until September 2012. To find an event near you and to sign up to the WE PLAY Challenge, visit

Global Rainbow is a spectacular outdoor artwork created by New York and Berlin based artist Yvette Mattern. With the installation, the artist intends to symbolise hope and to encompass geographical and social diversity in its reach.

Global Rainbow consists of seven parallel beams of high specification laser light, representing the spectrum of the seven colours of the rainbow, and is designed to be projected across large open sites, particularly densely populated areas, and to be visible for up to 20 kilometres. You will be able to see Global Rainbow in the North West on Thursday 8 March from 7pm–midnight; on Friday 9 March from 6pm– 2 midnight; on Saturday 10 March from 6pm–midnight; and on Sunday 11 March from 6pm–midnight.

Debbi Lander, the 2012 Creative Programmer for the North West, said: “London 2012 is not just about sport or spectatorship. It‟s an opportunity to connect, to collaborate and be part of a community; and to celebrate the world‟s largest global gathering on earth. This is our chance to reach out and feel part of something bigger and to use London 2012 as a platform to create interaction and community across the North West.”

The WE PLAY Challenge provides a social space for people in the North West who are interested in having the expanded London 2012 experience and it enables them to contribute to the track record and history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As a participant in the Challenge, the public will be able to claim points for every event they attend and to share their experiences with other people. As part of the online sign-up process to the Challenge, people are invited to submit a photo of their handprint – which will become part of an innovative, living piece of art, titled Handprint, which invites interaction and will be on display at WE PLAY Expo in Preston.

WE PLAY Expo, the North West‟s closing celebration for London 2012, takes place in Preston from 7-9 September – the final weekend of the Paralympic Games – and forms part of the Preston Guild festival which occurs once every 20 years and, dating back to 1179, is England‟s oldest festival.

WE PLAY is the North West‟s cultural legacy programme for the Cultural Olympiad. WE PLAY is funded by Legacy Trust UK, an independent charity creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.

WE PLAY showcases excellence in outdoor arts, digital innovation and young producers through three annual regional programmes over four years. These annual programmes – Abandon Normal Devices, Lakes Alive and Blaze – culminate their four-year endeavour for 2012 at the Expo. They will present ambitious, large-scale productions alongside other Cultural Olympiad activity and special events including the presentation of Handprint and another WE PLAY Expo new commission, Why We Play, which is a documentary by North West filmmaker Mike Todd.

Sarah Maxfield, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: "Global Rainbow is the perfect way to launch WE PLAY Challenge and to mark the beginning of the year‟s cultural celebrations of the Olympics and Paralympic Games in the North West. This is just the start of a really exciting programme of events across the region that provide great opportunities for everyone to get involved and to feel part of London 2012.”

Stella Hall, Festival Director of Preston Guild 2012, said: “We are delighted to be working with extraordinary artists of the calibre of Yvette Mattern in this extraordinary year. The coincidence of Preston Guild with London 2012 is an auspicious one and we are proud to launch the year‟s Cultural Olympiad journey for the North West region here in Preston. We look forward to welcoming artists and sportspeople and their audiences all back to ours in September.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said: “Well done for bringing Global Rainbow to the UK. It is a great opportunity for people across the North West to enjoy a spectacular piece of free international art as part of the build up to the London 2012 Festival.‟
Moira Swinbank, Chief Executive, Legacy Trust UK, said: “Since 2008 WE PLAY has been creating a lasting cultural legacy across the North West of England, through the fantastic projects Lakes Alive, Blaze and Abandon Normal Devices. We are proud to be the major funders of this fantastic programme and are delighted that the WE PLAY Challenge will encourage even more people to get involved in celebrating London 2012 at a local level. Global Rainbow will be a spectacular start to an amazing summer for everyone in the North West.”

Artist Yvette Mattern said: "It is an honour to present Global Rainbow as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme. Global Rainbow is a monumental artwork in scale and reach and its invitation to England during this Olympiad year is epic."

Global Rainbow is produced by amino (a contemporary arts production agency based in Newcastle upon Tyne) with support from Arts Council England and is co-presented in the North West by WE PLAY and Preston Guild 2012.
To find out how you can take part in London 2012 and to sign up to the WE PLAY Challenge in the North West visit

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