Coventry has been announced as the UK City of Culture 2021. If you’re unsure what this means, or how to get involved, check out our handy Q&A!
What is a City of Culture?
The UK City of Culture is a designation given to a city in the UK for a period of one year, once every four years. The idea of the initiative, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is to “build on the success of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for the area.” Since its inception, there have been two Cities of Culture – Derry~Londonderry in 2013, and Hull in 2017.
How did Coventry become City of Culture?
The process began in June 2015, when Coventry City Council decided to submit a bid. They set up the Coventry City of Culture Trust, an independent charity designed to run the bid and bring home the title. Working in partnership with the Council, the University of Warwick, Coventry University, arts organisations and private sector businesses, the Trust submitted two comprehensive bid documents, held a series of events as part of an advanced programme and engaged extensively with local communities. Coventry was announced as the winner on 7 December 2017, beating fellow rivals Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland.
What does it mean for the city?
Coventry will hope to follow in the footsteps of previous City of Culture Hull. Hull saw its local economy increase by an estimated £60 million, and it has seen more than £1 billion of investment since it was awarded the title in 2013 – one of the huge upturns was in tourism. Its artistic programme was a huge hit with residents and critics, and it did a lot to bring the community together. Coventry will have access to a £3 million Heritage Lottery Fund, and it is estimated that the City of Culture will make a direct economic impact of £349.8 million from 2018 to 2022. The Trust then plans to operate after 2022, ensuring long-term cultural success for the city.
What events will take place as part of City of Culture?
A full programme is being developed for the year with a budget of £25 million, and it will be announced in 2020. However, some events have already been announced. Coventry Ring Road will be the backdrop for Britain’s first two-mile-long poem, and there will be a year-round programme of street-based celebrations (termed ‘Streets of Culture’). Seven Coventry schools will commission artists to transform electric taxis, bringing them together in the Taxi Arts Centre. A festival will take place, celebrating the contribution that refugee and migrant communities are making across the world.
The Royal Shakespeare Company will also take residence in the city for a year-long programme of Shakespeare-based events, including unique screenings of the whole canon of Shakespeare’s plays, taking place throughout the city. There will also be a number of pilot and build-up events taking place in the run up to 2021.
How can I get involved?
Getting involved can be as simple as helping to spread the word about the City of Culture – following Coventry2021 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is an easy way to do this. At the end of 2019, the Trust will begin recruiting for volunteers to help out with the 2021 programme – you can register your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re particularly keen. When 2021 rolls round, the key thing is to engage with the programme – go to events and explore Coventry, and make the most of all the culture on offer.