"The arts were always at the center of Coubertin's vision for the Olympic Movement. In the years of preparation required to deliver a credible Olympic cultural program, I have found that Coubertin's unflagging belief in the power of music, dance, and words was sustaining," Raymond T. Grant, the artistic director of the 2002 Olympic Arts Festival and managing director of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee writes in his article Contrast, Culture and Courage: A Cultural Administrator's tribute to Pierre de Coubertin.
To inherit the cultural legacy of Coubertin and highlight the value of cultural programs within the Olympic Movement – and the connection between artists and athletes – Beijing will host 2008 Meet in Beijing Arts Festival to celebrate the achievements of athletes alongside the accomplishments of artists.
China Arts & Entertainment Group (CAEG) launches the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival every April to May. This year, under the direction of the Ministry of Culture, the festival has been postponed and expanded upon. It will start on June 23, International Olympics Day, and run until mid-September.
"Sports, culture and education are the three main ideas of Coubertin, who is both a sport and arts administrator. The Beijing Olympics Games is a rare party for Chinese people to communicate with friends from all over the world. And, of course, the cultural and art events are an important part of the party," says Ding Wei, assistant to the Minister of Culture.
"With the principles of Olympism – peace, friendship and progress, Beijing will provide a platform for locals and visitors to share culture and arts with each other and celebrate the accomplishments of artists from all over the world," Ding says.
"Arts and sports both are universal languages that bridge people from different countries and backgrounds. I believe the cultural events will create a magic and harmonious atmosphere for the Olympic Games," says Zhang Yu, general manager of China Arts and Entertainment Group.
Some 260 shows ranging from music, dance and theater, and 160 exhibitions of visual arts from 80 countries, will run at the festival.
Every year, the Meet in Beijing Arts Festival has a main guest country. This year, the focus will be on Greece, the birth country of the Olympic Games.
At the Great Hall of the People on June 23, the festival will kick off with a ritual performance by some 40 Greek musicians and dancers along with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and dancers from the Beijing Dance Academy.