Celebrate the City was the Square Mile’s festive four-day programme to mark the 2012 London Olympics. It threw a warm spotlight on the contribution made to the whole of London by the City of London Corporation, City organisations and Londoners themselves.
Lacuna’s director, Stella Ioannou, was appointed as Project Director and worked with a very broad selection of stakeholders against a tight schedule of only eight months from concept to delivery. Despite this limited timeframe, Stella enlisted 93 participating partners and programmed over 120 events. Celebrate the City strove to open up London and its treasures to those who may not have experienced them before. By ensuring the majority of activities were free, the project attracted a more diverse demographic, including families on lower incomes, building future audiences for the City.
The programme encompassed all exhibitions and cultural events in the City, highlighting the rich breadth of culture on offer. Under the auspices of the City of London in partnership with the Diocese of London, Celebrate the City launched with a captivating performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture by talented musicians from the nearby Guildhall School of Music and Drama. This was followed by the Cheapside Fayre, which saw Cheapside pedestrianised and animated with stalls and performers for all to enjoy. The historic Guildhall Yard was similarly filled with a food market and stalls by the Livery Companies. In addition, visitors wandered freely in an array of significant buildings that are usually inaccessible, from City churches to the Livery Halls, who opened their doors to the public for the first time.
The success and legacy of this one-off event has been crucial for subsequent projects. The event helped to develop close working relationships with the City of London churches allowing for future collaborations. It established a key network of City culture, Livery, retail and hotel partners, as well as implementing vital communications and distribution networks that directly engage City communities.
Stella is an inspiring leader and an energetic organiser of great vision and great persistence. From her background in organising architectural, artistic and educational events she was chosen to direct the City of London’s special Olympic year project Celebrate the City. She did so with immense flair and success. It was a demanding task to bring together, in a short space of time, so many interest groups and diverse bodies, and to lead them towards a common idea of what a celebratory event for the widest possible audience could be. She achieved this with great diplomatic skill and persuasion, and the result was a unique contribution to the City of London’s profile in 2012 which expanded the range of the City’s cultural offerings and attracted audiences from beyond the Square Mile, opening its riches to all.
Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre
Working with Stella is both a joy and a challenge. She is fun, passionate, innovative and goes the extra mile to get the job done. Her address book and powers of persuasion are legendary and the work she has done with the church and the city has been exemplary. She is also a challenge. Unfailingly polite, she brings to any piece of work a discipline in style, a passion in creativity and challenge, a desire to achieve and exceed, and working hours that always exceed EU working hour directives! She is someone I am proud to work with.
Martin Sargeant, The Archdeaconry of London