by Céline Peterson

The years? 1912-1948. That was the last time that the arts were represented in the Olympic games. Yes, it’s true – there were medals given out for art forms such as music, sculpture, and literature. There are very few people today who would remember that this used to be the case. However, my cousin (an Olympian herself), Sylvia Sweeney, decided that this needed to be brought back. The idea was put in her head over twenty years ago when she promised her Uncle (my Father), that she would find a way to create an event that brought cultures together. Since that conversation, she has been working tirelessly to get the ArtsGames launched, and was finally able to do so in Rio De Janeiro, during this year’s Olympic games.

Earlier this year I attended the Montréal launch of the ArtsGames, where we got to see first-hand the work that has been put into this project over the last twenty years. There are five major art forms being represented: Music, Dance, Literature, Visual Arts, and Media Arts. Each of these art forms have commissions, and the commissions are then broken up into various categories. As the categories were being discussed, it was very clear that every possible art form from various cultures are being represented. There are over 195 countries that the ArtsGames have represented, and with that comes the fact that people of all ages are eligible to participate. This struck me very much as a Youth4Music Ambassador. While in Montréal, I was given the chance to watch a young dancer by the name of Alex Wong, do a showcase performance. Alex is originally from Edmonton and is just 29 years old. On that same stage, the 16-year-old classical pianist Daniel Clarke Bouchard wowed the crowd with his incredible talent. Other performances from that event included Liu Fang playing Pipa, a Chinese 4-string instrument, Guitarist Levon Ichkhanian of Armenian descent discussing the origin of the Oud, and then a performance from South African vocalist Lorraine Klaasen.

During the ArtsGames Global Launch in Rio De Janeiro last month, the world was given a chance to see what Sylvia Sweeney and her team have worked so hard to achieve over these last two decades. I believe that there is no better platform to bring cultures together than that of the Arts. The ArtsGames will bring Classical musicians, street artists, dancers, poets and more from around the world and of all ages together, and give them a platform larger than ever could be imaged to tell their story. While these competitions are medaled, the goal for Sylvia and her team is more than that of awarding a winner. It is truly to bring the world together through Literature, Visual Arts, Media Arts, Dance, and Music. These languages know no barriers and see no colour, and represent one of the Coalition’s greatest messages, #WeAreOne.

For more information about the ArtsGames, visit, or @IntlArtsGames on all Social Media platforms.