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About Coventry 2021

Executive Director and Chief Executive for Coventry City of Culture Trust

Creative Director for UK City of Culture 2021 announced

Your guide to Coventry's UK City of Culture bid

Hull 2017 Legacy

What events are planned for Coventry 2021?

Coventry's bid submitted to DCMS

What is City of Culture?

What would winning mean to the local area?

Why is Warwick involved?

What are the potential benefits?

Executive Director and Chief Executive for Coventry City of Culture Trust announced 16 May 2018

Trust Exec team The team that will deliver UK City of Culture 2021 in Coventry has made another major appointment.
Martin Sutherland, the Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Arts Management Trust – which manages the award-winning Royal & Derngate Theatres, Errol Flynn Filmhouse and The Core at Corby Cube - has joined the Coventry City of Culture Trust as the Executive Director and Chief Executive.
The appointment of Martin swiftly follows the announcement of Chenine Bhathena as Creative Director.
Martin will provide leadership for the Coventry City of Culture Trust, ensuring that Coventry’s profile, reputation and cultural engagement delivers a high level of respect within the city and region, as well as nationally.
He will build and maintain relationships with strategic partners and stakeholders, local businesses, local artists, cultural organisations and resident groups.
He said: “Coventry has done an amazing job during the bidding process, and since winning, and is already inspiring other towns and cities to consider how young people and diversity can be a catalyst for positive, lasting change.
“Working in neighbouring Northampton, while leading a dedicated team and developing close partnerships with artists, audiences, funders, local authorities and the University, I never lost sight of our mission to make sure that our arts venues were part of the wider regeneration of the area.
“The role here in Coventry allows me to make that the key focus of my work while supporting the team to deliver the incredible vision the city showed as it was bidding.”
Read press release in full

Executive Director and Chief Executive for Coventry City of Culture Trust announced 16 May 2018

Chenine BhathenaChenine Bhathena has promised to deliver “an unforgettable year” to Coventry after being appointed as the Creative Director for UK City of Culture 2021.

Chenine, who was the Creative Programmer for London 2012, has landed the role with the Coventry City of Culture Trust after a competitive three-month process.

Since Coventry won the title in December,the Trust has been recruiting for a range of roles to plan and deliver the 12-month programme which could stimulate £350 million of direct economic impact.

And Chenine, who joins from the Greater London Authority, believes being UK City of Culture means Coventry can highlight and develop its role as a global leader.

Stuart Croft said “This is another landmark in the build up to UK City of Culture 2021. The University of Warwick has been involved from the earliest stages so to have witnessed the success of the bid and now Chenine’s appointment, really brings home the fact that 2021 is not that far away.

“Chenine has a great pedigree in working on major arts and culture programmes and it will be really interesting working closely with her as she brings to life some of the existing programme ideas, as well as introducing ones of her own.

“We look forward to working with her in what is a hugely exciting time for the region.”

See the full press release here

Your guide to Coventry's UK City of Culture bid

Coventry 2021 public bid documentYou can read the key themes and vision for Coventry 2021 taken from the final bid document and shows what impact we hope to bring to Coventry and the region.

Download the full pdf here.

Hull 2017 Legacy

Hull has seen an incredible benefit as City of Culture 2017 with economic investment to date of £1.5bn of new inward investment in the 5 year period following the announcement in 2013. Estimates suggest that an additional £80m will boost the local economy in 2021, demonstrating clearly the overall value and economic impact of winning UKCC, before starting to look at the legacy impact.
Hull University, through an independent unit will be report on the impact in 2018, headlines from the first 3 months demonstrate;

  • Nine out of 10 people in the city attended one cultural event
  • Of those who attended The Hypocrite at Hull Truck, 38% had never before been through the theatre’s door
  • Attendance at the Ferens Arts Gallery is up 400%.
  • According to Expedia, bookings to Hull hotels through their website are up 80%

Hull 365 film

Watch the film of Hull's year of activity here

What events are planned for Coventry 2021?

The city’s initial bid document is now being judged by a panel of experts and, while the programme remains largely under wraps, the team has revealed some of the ideas they hope will help clinch the title with rooftop dance, ring road poetry and theatre at the old Fishy Moores chip shop among the suggestions.

Shop Front Theatre in City Arcade, site of former Fishy Moores chippy, will help stage a pilot Shop Front Festival in 2018 and it is hoped a week-long festival could make it to the city in 2021 with shops in the city centre taken over with dance, lighting, music, visual art and performance from Coventry, the UK, Europe and the USA.

Motionhouse DanceThe first ever Streets of Cultures celebration would see 21 streets across the city given the opportunity to shape and showcase City of Culture right on their doorstep. From Wainbody to Wood End, the 21 streets would be given the means to explore what City of Culture could look like to them. It could be anything from front gardens landscaped by an artist, to a documentary film about their road, a food festival, pavement poetry or a new street choir.

The project has been devised to create lasting relationships between neighbours and communities, decreasing isolation and increasing pride.

On top of that, local arts company Motionhouse Dance, who are performing in Aarhus European Capital of Culture in September and wowed audiences at last year's Godiva Festival with their gravity-defying diggers, will create a large-scale dance spectacle on the roof of a Coventry car park.

The full article is published in the Coventry Telegraph (16 May 2017)

For more details, see the announcement events listing;

Coventry's bid submitted to DCMS (27 April 2017)

coventry_culture250417-54a.jpgIt’s over 30 pages long, contains over 20,000 words and has been in the planning for more than a year and a half – Coventry’s initial bid document to be UK City of Culture in 2021 is complete.

The document outlines why Coventry should follow on from Hull and bring the prestigious title to the city in 2021. It has been produced by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and has been submitted to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Coventry is expected to find out before the summer whether it has made the shortlist for the prize.
To celebrate its completion and submission, the Trust welcomed a whole host of individuals, groups and organisations from across the city to an event at Coventry Cathedral.
As well as setting out a programme of events that would take place right across the city and would include a range of communities in 2021, the bid document also shows how a successful bid would leave a lasting, positive impact on Coventry. Coventry 2021 will reimagine the place of culture in a diverse, modern Britain.
It has been based heavily on research into the social and economic make-up of Coventry along with evidence on the number of visitors the city attracts, from where and for what types of activity.
Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said 18 months’ of work has been building to this moment. She said;

Every community visit, every workshop, every event, every media interview and every meeting has been all about this document and making it the best it can possibly be to reflect what Coventry is and everything it could be if we are successful.
There have been some very long hours and some massive decisions along the way but we couldn’t be happier with the bid.
It recognises the challenges that Coventry faces but also some of the great things that are going on under the surface. The evidence we’ve gathered from the research - such as Coventry being a very young, diverse city - has had a huge bearing on the bid.
The support we’ve had along the way – from the public, from key local organisations, from businesses and from the media in the region – has been nothing short of incredible.
Coventry is right behind its bid to be UK City of Culture and I have no doubt that seeing the fantastic start that Hull has had and the economic benefits it is already achieving has helped to show, again, what it could do for Coventry.
We are very excited to be submitting this bid and we believe we have done Coventry proud. We wish all the other bidding cities the very best of luck but, of course, we believe that we’ve got the best case to be UK City of Culture in 2021."

culture_bid_2.jpgCoventry’s bid themes include ‘moving’, ‘underground’, ‘reinvention’ and ‘being human’ and will help to form the programme that would run throughout 2021 and could include up to 1,000 events during the year.

Coventry City Council, The University of Warwick, and Coventry University are Principal Partners of the bid and are providing significant support. The Ricoh Arena is Bid Sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover, Adient, Friargate, Coventry Building Society, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham Airport, PET-Xi, SCC, Pertemps, and CEF (City Electrical Factors) are also Bid Development Sponsors.
Picture 1: The crowd gathers at Coventry Cathedral to wave off the initial bid
Picture 2: Tayyibah Mota, David Burbidge CBE, DL, Louis Lewinson, Laura McMillan, Emma Harrabin and Juliet Colley, with the initial bid

What is City of Culture?

The City of Culture is a competition run by the Department of Culture Media and Sport every four years. Hull will be the next City of Culture in 2017.

Coventry is bidding for City of Culture 2021 and is currently developing the bid to be submitted in spring 2017.

The announcement of the winner is expected to be made at the end of 2017.

The winning city will then spend the following years preparing to host one of the largest events in the UK calendar as the world watches. The competition has been proven to provide a real step change and legacy not just for the winning city but also for other bidding cities.

Hull is in the news at the moment as they start their year as City of Culture 2017. You can watch their opening night video and see plans for 2017 on the Hull2017 website.

For more information, read the BBC Arts review on 'why 2017 will change Hull for the better'.

What would winning mean to the local area?

  • Winning UK City of Culture could provide a real step change and legacy for the city and could bring upwards of £80 million economic impact in the year.
  • The city is very much behind the bid with Coventry City Council, the two universities, local businesses and the cultural sector all backing the bid.
  • Coventry is well situated to attract visitors from across the UK, 20 million people are within 2 hours from the city.
  • Coventry has a rich heritage and a bright future with strong cultural assets including Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry Cathedral, Herbert Art Gallery and Independent Arts Organisations.

Listen to the BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire special broadcast on 26th March 2017: 'If Coventry win the City of Culture bid' as the clocks go forward, we are going forward to 2021 as Vic Minett looks at how Coventry could look if we win the City of Culture bid.

BBC Radio C&W

Remembering Coventry

remembering coventry The bid team recently welcomed a group from London to the city who and are involved in cultural organisations and creative industries. You can read Graham Hitchin's blog about the visit here.

Coventry is a city of differences: more multicultural than much of the West Midlands, and more unequal in terms of wealth and deprivation. It’s also younger than comparable cities".

Winning the bid would also have economic benefits to the wider region. Birmingham has backed Coventry in its bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021.

Coventry's bid was brought to the Second City as part of its adoption by the wider region and won the backing of the business, civic and arts community at a packed event at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Monday 21st November.

Birmingham CCoC launch

David Burbidge and Laura McMillan join supporters at the Birmingham Hippodrome to back Coventry's City of Culture bid

More than 200 people attended the event including Martin Reeves, chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). He said:

While it is Coventry's name on the bid, this would bring benefits to the whole of the West Midlands.

"The WMCA is looking to drive the economy of the region and create 500,000 new jobs – culture is very much part of that and can help to ensure that those who haven't previously benefitted from economic uplift feel connected to a future which taps into the amazing asset base and creativity of our people."

David Burbidge, the chairman of the bid, said:

When you look at the evidence from Liverpool when it was European Capital of Culture, those benefits are felt across the entire region too - that's why we wanted to bring our message to Birmingham and the support here has been incredible."

Why is Warwick involved?

WBS launchBoth Warwick and Coventry universities and Coventry City Council are principal partners in the bid and supporting the Coventry 2021 bid team.

Alongside Coventry City Council and Coventry University, Warwick is a partner to the bid and it is great to see the bid taking shape, and the support from arts and cultural organisations, neighbourhood communities, businesses and schools to showcase all Coventry has to offer when it comes to culture and the arts.
Warwick will do all we can to support the bid, as we are proud to be part of this great and creative city, at such an exciting time.
Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor & President

What are the potential benefits from engagement with Coventry City of Culture 2021?

Jonothan Neelands

The City of Culture competition gives us the chance to bring together local government, the business community and the Universities to support the people of Coventry in building a more prosperous, vibrant and attractive city in which to live, work and study. This is a great opportunity to build lasting partnerships and to dream big for Coventry’s future.

Professor Jonothan Neelands, Associate Dean WBS and Director of Research on the Executive Bid Committee for Coventry City of Culture 2021

Regardless of the outcome, being involved with the bid and working closely with Coventry University, Coventry City Council and other key partners opens opportunities to work more collaboratively and strengthen relations on a regional level.
A large proportion of staff and students who live in the region are already actively involved in many community groups and activities in their daily lives and we want to recognise these contributions and raise awareness of activities on our doorstep for our campus community to get involved with. The bid also gives the University of Warwick a number of specific benefits which will support our institutional ambitions:

Student experience

  • Student benefit through providing opportunities across volunteering, work placements, UG research and DTC engagement
  • Coventry becomes a more vibrant, attractive place to study, live and work and longer term improves graduate retention
  • Bid Competition motivates staff and students to engage with city and regional activities


  • Strengthen and sustain our regional HE, business and civic partnerships
  • Warwick has a key role in building local knowledge economy
  • Increased positive regional and national visibility


  • Provide research funding and Impact (10 year trail)

  • Potential to be centre of excellence for applied urban studies & cultural policy research

Mark Wood Polar Explorer

Coventry has reinvented itself using all of its attributes from sports to the arts to technology to education; the people of Coventry are fresh thinkers and see the city through new eyes. This once vibrant industrial city has had its fair share of turmoil but the strength of the city, is the belief of the people and the way it continues to evolve.

As a polar explorer who has stood in the very extremes of the planet, the most unnatural environment for me to have been brought up in is a city environment but I am an example of how the people from Coventry think differently.

Mark Wood, Polar Explorer, IGGY's explorer and Coventarian

Coventry 2021 principal partner