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Local community partnerships for Resonate Festival

In just three months the Resonate Festival’s three-day grand finale will take place on our very own campus, bringing a close to the inspiring programme of interactive events for people of all ages across Coventry and Warwickshire. With nearly 90 events to date, and plenty lined up for the coming months, Resonate events have celebrated the power of creativity, conversation and connection across our region.

We take a closer look at four of the Resonate projects that illustrate some of the valuable partnerships we have formed with the local community.

Everyone’s Coventry

'Everyone's Coventry' was a collaborative project between the University’s Department of Applied Linguistics and Coventry College’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Department. It aimed to showcase the skills and talents of the young people seeking sanctuary in Coventry who attended ESOL classes at Coventry College. Each of the students involved chose their own topics and how they wanted to creatively present their work. In conjunction with the ESOL manager and teaching staff, Kathryn Sidaway then organised a webinar that launched an online exhibition, followed later in the summer by an exhibition at the college campus.

The webinar itself was a great success both in terms of attendance and the confidence boost it gave the students involved. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 restrictions in June 2021, the exhibition was initially online but was able to go up later in the summer. The students produced a selection of poems, recipes, short stories and diaries that reflected their wide range of cultures and migration experience. The exhibition was organised by the students themselves with coordination and support from ESOL youth lecturers. Their sense of achievement was palpable as the young people worked with each other, taking real pride on checking the best placement of their posters and artwork. They even took time running outside to check whether the positioning looked correct from a spectator's perspective.

Kathryn who led the project said:

“The exhibition was the first thing that greeted visitors to the city campus all through last summer and into the start of the new academic year. It was clear that it made an impact on all who saw it, given the colourful nature of the posters and the positive messaging about Coventry as a city of sanctuary and comfort, as well as a wonderful and diverse range of displays about various aspects of the students' cultures.”

James Pratt, ESOL Manager said:

"I would say it was inarguably a beneficial experience for learners and staff alike."


The 'FEAST' theme allowed the University's Global Research Priority on 'Food' a chance to forge closer links with business and community organisations throughout the region. Facilitated by the City of Culture Trust and Warwick's Institute of Engagement, alongside Coventry BID, Visit Coventry, Tales from Coventry Tables, My-Parish, the Spirit of Berkswell project and Ellen Manning a rich showcase was devised of ‘what's on’ festive menus in and around the city. A public-facing website, social media, radio interviews and press coverage helped to disseminate the various elements of the project to a wider audience.

From early November to mid-December 2021, six components of celebratory meals (bread, meat, vegetables, dairy, sweets and cakes, and drinks) were highlighted in videos featuring related producers, restaurants and researchers. Delicacies included vegetables grown organically near Leamington Spa, cheese from a Berkswell farm, turkeys reared near Claverdon, and Coventry beers and wines from a vineyard outside Stratford-upon-Avon. Eateries ranged from the Transport Museum café to a Brazilian churrascaria.

For those with an appetite for more, Warwick staff and students conducted extended interviews with leading scholars, wrote blog posts, compiled presentations, organised online attractions, notably an Exhi-BEAN-tion showcasing recipes for locally grown haricot beans, and cast a comparative glance at festive dishes in India and China. Now the project is looking to consolidate these connections through future initiatives, such as a panel discussion on the future of the hospitality sector at the Resonate Festival Event in April 2022 and the development of an interactive food map for Coventry and Warwickshire.

Beat Kümin, one of the Food GRP's leads said:

"FEAST has provided university researchers with a prime platform to interact with regional partners and to feed their findings into ongoing debates on the economic and cultural significance of the food and drinks industry."


Reem Doukmak, who came to the city from Syria in 2013, worked with theatre-maker Paul O'Donnell on Reintegrate, a digital exhibition of creative work which tells the story of four refugees living in the city. The project, part of Coventry Creates, included a series of workshops and interviews with participants from refugee and host communities on their reintegration practices into the current social 'normalities.'

Their process was a little different to other Coventry Creates projects as activity was feeding the research, rather than the other way round. Reem’s research focuses on how drama can benefit refugee and asylum-seeking communities as they reintegrate in the UK. This was an opportunity for them to explore working with members of these communities in a theatrical capacity.

By capturing refugees and local community’s voices through interviews, questionnaires, self-produced textual and visual materials and performance, the research gives insights into what it is like to carry out research under Covid-19 and to bring to light questions of integration at times of uncertainties for refugee and host communities.

Reem said:

“I felt I was opening up closed doors of creativity, culture and social life for myself, the artist and the participants. We were all in this together, each was doing their part in co-creating a new Coventry coming out of the pandemic. We just started connecting the dots.”

Reintegrate became three short videos which were presented as part of Coventry Creates digital exhibition in September 2020, and a gallery exhibition in 2021. It was presented in both English and Arabic.

Watch a video about the refugee experience in Coventry City below!

Playing Out

(Photo by George Archer Photography)
Playing Out is a collaborative programme of activity for all ages between the people of Canley and Warwick Arts Centre. Over 40 activities and sessions took place from January 2021 running through to September, both in the community and online. Through steering groups and conversations with Canley residents, a programme of events emerged, co-curated by the community itself. The events all revolved around two central themes – Play (creative activities) and Listening (hearing each other’s stories).

A particular highlight was the Canley Community Parade. Organisation began last summer when around 80 Canley residents of all ages came together to learn to play in a Samba band and produced large props. The parade filled the streets with music and colourful creations, journeyed through the neighbourhood guiding everyone to Canley Big Lunch – a free community event that brings people together over food, music and activities.

Gemma Wright, Project Lead and Head of Creative Learning at Warwick Arts Centre said:

“The notion of ‘playing out’ evokes a sense of feeling safe in a community space and an equality of experience. Canley itself is the playground and residents are invited to take part in and create playful activities with each other.”

A resident from the local community said:

“My kids beat box and play the rhythms everywhere now. It has lit a spark inside of them. Their confidence has grown, and it’s great to see positive white and black male role models as this represents my family unit."

It’s an ongoing legacy of community collaboration carried beyond the scope of the project with new leaders and volunteers from Canley. Running until December 2023, Playing Out aims to support the residents of Canley to realise a vision for a new community hub and enable the Canley community to play together whilst creating and delivering community parades in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

There’s more to come…

Resonate events have been a great opportunity to engage and collaborate with our local community, sharing research, collaborating on ideas and making knowledge accessible to everyone. However, it’s not finished yet.

Visit The Resonate Festival programme to see the great line up of events taking place. And not forgetting our three day, on-campus festival finale in April where we will be showcasing and sharing the best of everything we do, along with our community partners and collaborators from across Coventry, Warwickshire and the world.

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