Why you should Love Coventry – 2021’s UK City of Culture
Coventry, where thousands call home and the city we will be celebrating for a full year. Last Thursday (12 May), the team at Coventry City of Culture Trust announced the Love Coventry programme, and £1.3 million of new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund.
The support of The National Lottery Community Fund has meant that we’ve been able to co-create and engage with local communities across Coventry, ensuring that our UK City of Culture 2021 celebrations are for everyone who lives here.
Creativity and culture is everywhere, in every community and on every street. We have connected with people across the city with differing faiths, interests, and stories to tell. The Love Coventry programme has been designed with, by and for its residents to celebrate the spirit of the city.
Here’s a look at some of the standout projects so far, which show some of the reasons why we Love Coventry.
During the Carnival of Lights in 2019 we brought light, dancing and spectacle to the streets of Foleshill for communities to experience on their doorsteps.
The Abundance programme will provide ten artists with development and training with the support of producer, Navkiran Mann, and Sampad Arts. Some of the artists will then work to co-create the next Carnival of Lights event, Sunday 7 November 2021.
Each artist has different specialisms that they will bring to the programme such as filmmaking, dance, design, and creative writing. We have such a rich vein of South Asian talent to draw from in Coventry, all of which deserve to take space in the sector and inspire a generation of artists across Coventry and Warwickshire.
In 2020, Coventry City of Culture Trust launched a search for eight Community Connectors; people who cared about and were active in their communities and wanted to create something that would leave a lasting impact.
In February 2021 we announced eight incredible people, from different areas of Coventry, who would be working with us to create their own community events or artistic projects. The group have been working with the Trust and other partners to undergo training and development, which will bring their ideas to life across different parts of the city.
The project has had a positive reception so far, and we are excited to see how the events will take place. The Connectors have encouraged a sense of community, which showcases the diversity across a vibrant and welcoming city.
Theatre Next Door
At Coventry City of Culture Trust, we believe that the arts should be accessible to everyone. One project that we’re proud of is our community centre touring project, which includes representatives from local community spaces. These community spaces have collectively decided to call this project 'Theatre Next Door'.
The group is set to deliver high quality theatre in local neighbourhoods, so that people don’t have to travel far or pay large amounts to enjoy a great performance. It empowers community centres across the city to develop the skills and freedom to choose and host their own events and performances throughout the City of Culture year.
Between September 2020 – May 2021, project partners and producer, Molly Adkins, supported the centres to present an online programme of events ranging from circus skills to puppetry. Although restrictions meant that they’ve been unable to take place in person so far, we’re hopeful that this will change with more events coming to community centres throughout the year.
More importantly, we’re working towards creating a legacy for this project by equipping community centres with the skills and understanding they need to be able to host events long after our City of Culture year has finished.
Showcasing Coventry’s talent
We have been working with communities from the moment Coventry started its campaign to bid for the title. The diverse make-up of the city and the local talent that we are championing during our year as UK City of Culture 2021, is just one of the reasons why I love Coventry so much.
While the pandemic has forced us to rethink and adjust the ways we work, we have still brought people together and delivered community led projects. One example is Window Wanderland, which saw more than 2,000 homes across Coventry and Warwickshire turn their front windows into art spaces during the beginning of the year.
The work that we do with communities across Coventry would not be possible without the support of The National Lottery Community Fund. We are grateful and excited that we can continue and expand this work and continue to share the projects that will be taking place throughout the year as part of the Love Coventry programme.
Find out even more reasons to Love Coventry here: https://coventry2021.co.uk/
Ellen Booth, Collaborative City Producer at Coventry City of Culture Trust.