Art must be inspired by its UK location and the spirit of the Olympics
A £5.4m contest has been launched to create 12 public works of art inspired by the 2012 Olympics.
Artists will receive up to £500,000 to create works for the Cultural Olympiad in the run-up to the 2012 London games.
It is the first major project in the four-year Cultural Olympiad, which aims to showcase British art and culture.
Arts Council England says it wants artists "to mark a moment in our histories in unexpected ways and places across the country".
The Cultural Olympiad will comprise 500 non-sport events aimed at involving and inspire people across the UK.
It was a key factor in London winning the bid to host the Olympics.
Launching the Artists Taking the Lead competition, London 2012 organisers called it "the most ambitious and wide-ranging art prize in the UK".
Entrants can devise works of art in any medium, on condition that the art is inspired by the spirit of the Olympics and the part of the UK in which it is located.
Nine winning artists from different English regions will each receive £500,000 for their commission, a Northern Ireland entrant will receive £190,000, an artist in Scotland will get £460,000 and one in Wales will receive £230,000.
But details of how the completed works of art will be used have yet to be finalised, London 2012 said.
Chairman Lord Coe said: "The Cultural Olympiad harks back to the beginnings of the modern Olympic movement, when artists as well as athletes competed for medals.
"This is the first step in what promises to be a fascinating journey to 2012."
Arts Council England executive director Moira Sinclair said: "We're excited to be laying down such a unique challenge to artists.
"We want them to look at their region and their connections with fresh eyes... to surprise and delight the world with their extraordinary artistic vision."
A shortlist will be announced in July with the winners named in October 2009.