The University is currently a hive of activity and planning, as we get ready for the year ahead, with City of Culture launching on 15 May 2021. Well, I say "the University", but of course we're actually all getting on with the work from our homes, as we continue to face the challenges of planning for the most complex and ambitious set of public engagement projects ever delivered in the city in the context of current lockdown restrictions.
Colleagues from the Warwick Institute of Engagement, in collaboration with groups and individuals from all around the University, are getting ready to stage an exciting series of public events throughout the year, from talks and public conversations to exhibitions, film festivals to walking tours, debates to poetry slams.
The ethos of our public programme, which is organised around a set of monthly themes (for example Invention, Sanctuary and Community in our first quarter), is to seize the opportunity of City of Culture to engage with the people of the Coventry during this special year. We’re doubling our commitment to working collaboratively with and for our local communities, and devising a programme that reaches the people of the city who wouldn't normally come along to campus-based or university-run events.
Where we’re collaborating with others outside of the University, our programme aims to represent and reflect on the varied cultural traditions in our city, highlighting diverse voices and artistic traditions in our events. Those working on our programme are also mindful of, and
proactively reaching across, the barriers to participation that some groups in the city face more than others. We’re really trying to ensure that Warwick is recognised and embedded as a valued contributor to Coventry lives and to establish a legacy of engagements in our local communities. We’re also working closely with colleagues at Warwick Arts Centre to make sure that our programme of events supports and complements their exciting plans for the year ahead.
Our programme is made up of four key elements:
- A themed ‘roadshow’ programme which takes researchers out of the University to work collaboratively in community spaces around the city;
- Our annual engagement events that will have a special ‘City of Culture’ iteration in the coming year (think Pint of Science, the ESRC Festival of Social Science Research, the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, etc.)
- Special one-off events that showcase research from across Warwick in exciting ways
- An on-campus festival in April 2022 that will invite the people of the city over to our place for discussion, debate and lots of interactive fun!
We’ve been challenged by our current situation to look at how to reorganise and rethink some of these activities in the first quarter of our programme. Whether that’s by figuring out how best to continue reaching local communities online (our Invention and Sanctuary Roadshows will now largely be delivered digitally, for example), or by getting creative about delivering engaging, socially distanced activities for all (we have been really inspired by everyone’s efforts in the ongoing Window Wanderland project, including all those on campus who took part).
There will be lots of calls for participation and collaboration from people across the University in the coming months: for example, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies are currently calling out for collaborators on a project on the future sounds of the city that leads up to our fourth roadshow, Futures, in October. You can also register to be notified of volunteering opportunities via Warwick Volunteers. If you see anything in the programme that you’d like to get involved in, or if you have other activities coming up that you’d like to tie into our City of Culture monthly themes, please give us a shout on email@example.com