When one thinks of the City of Culture, terms like the arts, entertainment, new buildings and exhibitions spring to mind. As Coventry receives this title for 2021, investment will enter the city to try and revitalise its prospects. Given how universally affected every city has been affected by coronavirus, any extra funding will provide a welcome boost to residents in both the short and long term.
However, this funding is not exclusively limited to culture. The City of Culture trust has received a £100,000 investment to spend on the Green Future Programme, which is designed to focus on the city’s environment. The money has been given by the Garfield Weston Foundation (GWF), which is a family-founded grant-making trust supporting UK causes for more than five decades, according to the Coventry Telegraph.
The City of Culture trust has received a £100,000 investment to spend on the Green Future Programme, which is designed to focus on the city’s environment.
This funding is not simply in isolation. £3 million has already been invested from the National Lottery Heritage Fund into the City of Culture trust specifically allocated towards nature, heritage and the city environment. It appears that culture and the environment will go together through The Tides Between Us. This is a programme mixing storytelling with digital installations by allowing visitors to go on an immersive journey tracking how the flow of oxygen through our bodies mirrors that of the natural world.
Culture and the environment will go together.
Given the increased discussions over climate change, particularly from young people, the justification of discussing the environment within a cultural festival is unsurprising. While policy papers tracking the impact of CO2 are important, artistic mediums can often be just as effective for conveying the importance of dealing with climate change and making people aware of the issue.
Martin Sutherland, the Chief Executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust stated that “we aim to be responsible and sustainable when it comes to our programme and to reconnect people with the city’s heritage and natural environment”, according to the Coventry Telegraph.
Mr Sutherland also remarked that “our Green Futures Programme is being designed to do exactly this, and we are delighted to have received support from the Garfield Weston Foundation to support us in reaching our ambitions”.
Philippa Charles, the Director of Garfield Weston Foundation remarked that “We are very pleased to support Coventry 2021” and that “it’s unusual for GWF to fund a time-limited project in this way but we believe the Green Futures Programme and The Tides Within Us will be a wonderful way of bringing together heritage, the natural environment and technology in way that has a lasting impact”.
Given that the environment affects us all, that might be the one way in which proper citizen engagement is able to take place.
The importance will arise around making sure issues are discussed and the attention of audiences are held long term. Hull, the previous UK City of Culture, generated much attention when it held the title. Given political discussions like Brexit and the pandemic have since dominated the conversation, it’s unclear what strength the cultural vibrancy plays today. The same could potentially be true of Coventry.
What is required for the City of Culture project to be a success? It has already been pushed back a year once due to the pandemic and, despite the rollout of vaccinations, looks set to be heavily affected this year. Despite the pressures of virtual learning, any project’s success can only be built on connecting with residents. This will ensure, whether on culture or the environment, a level of interest remains long after Coventry’s official designation has ended. Whether it’s students or residents, Coventry’s large population means people of all ages, encompassing the entire city need to be involved. Given that the environment affects us all, that might be the one way in which proper citizen engagement is able to take place.