We are currently preparing our Hosts & Champions exhibition for a touring programme that will visit a variety of locations around Scotland in 2015 and 2016. In this article Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides an update on some of the material she has discovered while researching our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive.
For each of the consecutive Commonwealth Games that comes to pass there are many items and ideas that cross between countries as the process of organising such a large event becomes more established, and each new host has more examples and materials to learn from and improve upon. Those ideas, items and events that are carried on are usually some of the things most clearly remembered by those who visit the Games. These include some obvious contenders such as the opening and closing ceremonies, the Queen’s Baton Relay, the creation of unique medals, the design of a new baton and so on. However there are many things that are created during the Games that we do not always have the opportunity to see and enjoy, let alone compare and contrast against every one that has come before! However, I am in the happy situation of being able to help.
As I investigate the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive I have the happy job of going through materials from – the great majority of – past Games in preparation for our touring exhibition (#HostsandChampions and #Legacy2014) and directly seeing how things have progressed and changed. Among my many trawls through the minutes, mascots, medals and uniforms that make up this archive I have come across a great number of newsletters/bulletins that provide wonderful information on the progress of preparations, and the opinions and thoughts of the people involved. While many of these newsletters are made directly available to the public – materials that will no doubt make a re-appearance on this blog – there are several unique series that are designed to serve the Athletes’ Village and its inhabitants.
The Once & Future Voice
“It will be designed on the Olympic model, both in general construction and its stern definition of the amateur. But the Games will be very different, free from both the excessive stimulus and the babel of the international stadium. They should be merrier and less stern, and will substitute the stimulus of novel adventure for the pressure of international rivalry”. The Commonwealth Games: The First 60 Years 1930-1990. 10. Cleve Dheensaw
For those of you that went to see some of the sports and events on offer in Glasgow this past July/August, I think you will understand how this desire for the Commonwealth Games to be ‘merrier and less stern’ is a sentiment that has very enthusiastically been carried through! This desire for a friendly, jovial and participatory atmosphere is not only encouraged among the host’s people but among the athletes, and this is wonderfully highlighted through the Village newsletters that appear across the years. Variously titled Village Courier, Village Daily Bulletins, Village NewZ (note the ‘Z’ for late 90’s cool), Village View, Village Voice (with more yet to be discovered); these publications promote events locally and within the Village while highlighting interesting information about competitors and organisers.
While the minutes of previous Commonwealth Game’s committees have yet to reveal the exact moment of inspiration that produced these publications, the earliest examples I have discovered appear to have a very utilitarian objective. The Village Daily Bulletin is a series of single or double A4 sheets produced for the Edinburgh 1970 Games that provide useful information on the practical elements of the Village.
Adorned with nothing more than a logo banner at the top, these newsletters were made available to all members of the Village for practical purposes.
With a leap, skip and hop the next Village news I came across is from Brisbane 1982, the Village Courier, and already the differences between the two publications could not be greater. Placing a huge emphasis on photography this publication is presented much like a newspaper, with a column lay-out and regular segments. The regular segments include the ‘Village in Pictures’ – a middle-spread featuring photographs of people in and around the Village – cartoon sketches and interviews that highlight the work of administrators and organiser.
The introduction of cartoon sketches in the Brisbane Village Courier is carried forward, with large caricatures of athletes in the Edinburgh 1986 Village View and the Game’s mascots beginning to make an appearance.
Next we have the Village NewZ publication of Auckland 1990 which presents some of the best examples of engagement with people in the Village, containing many personal stories of competitors and staff, and the activities and work they were engaged in within the Village (and their personal lives). Some of my favourite stories in this series include:
20 January 1990, CG/2/14/2/1/5
“Amongst the array of equipment for the NZ police’s biggest operation are telepagers…However, some very senior officers, found the technology a bit overwhelming and tried to engage the cool American voice at the other end in conversation. They may not have had a very enlightening experience but have certainly got the message now on how to work the pagers”.
31 January 1990, CG/2/14/2/1/16.
“At least six of the big boys have been too much for the Village beds, which have been crushed to the floor.
Village house manager Kris Hope-Cross is not naming teams but said wightlifters had been the major culprits behind the bed collapses…Village staff have no stronger beds available, so they have to send in the standard versions and hope for the best.”
Finally we have the past year’s publication, the Village Voice. Being able to view and directly observe the changes that have been made to the newsletters across the years it is not difficult to see the many elements that have been re-interpreted for the Glasgow 2014 Village Voice. There is still a section on entertainment for the Villagers, interviews with staff and competitors, a photographic record of daily events in the Village, a discussion of results and the opportunity to share your thoughts with the paper (although this is more regularly done via text, email and twitter, rather than by letter).
I will no doubt come across more of these as I investigate the archive, however we currently only have one of the series for this past Commonwealth Games 2014! If anyone does have any copies of any of the Village newsletters, or any stories about their experience of the games – in the Village or otherwise – please get in touch!