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Coventry City of Culture brings almost 50,000 people into cultural participation

New research from the University of Warwick has found that almost 50,000 people from underrepresented groups around Coventry have been brought into cultural participation by Coventry City of Culture last year, including around 10,000 from the most underrepresented areas. 

Cultural participation – meaning visits to publicly funded arts, theatre, music or dance events in Coventry – rose hugely in areas such as Canley and Little Heath thanks to a new local and inclusive approach.

The new analysis, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), shows that across the city, there was increase of over 48,000 people experiencing publicly funded culture, including almost 10,000 in Little Heath and Canley, which previously had some of the lowest cultural participation rates. 

The research suggests that this higher level of inclusion proves that many different societal groups are just as interested in culture, provided these events are in close proximity and involve underrepresented communities in their organisation. 

Professor Jonathon Neelands at the University of Warwick, commented: “By focusing on hyper-local offerings, the programme offered local proximity, which is important to people who do not often engage with culture or who are in lower economic groups. 

“Offering the potential for a sense of ownership by the kinds of people who are most often missing from cultural spaces also helped boost inclusion across last year's City of Culture events”. 

Coventry City of Culture was ground-breaking in its work to make culture accessible to all, with the report showing that almost half of tickets issued to Coventry postcodes were to lower economic groups, with over three quarters of the programme co-created with local communities.  

The report has a series of recommendations on how to maintain this increased cultural inclusion, particularly the importance of keeping events local and reasonably priced.  

Read the report in full here. 

The report is part of a series of papers examining the impact of last year’s City of Culture events on Coventry. The full series of papers can be read here.