Eight things to expect as Coventry prepares for City of Culture 2021

How Coventry's Streets of Cultures celebration could look
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Organisers of Coventry’s City of Culture bid have outlined some of the events which will take place following its announcement as host city for 2021.

Here’s eight things we can expect to see:

• A Streets of Culture programme co-producing work in local communities. The first build-up event will be the UK’s first Shop Front Theatre Festival in March 2018 and the city will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its Cathedral with a major new lighting commission.

The plan will see 21 streets given the means to explore what the City of Culture looks like to them. It could be anything from front gardens landscaped by an artist to a documentary film about their road or it could include 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.

• A week-long Shop Front Festival which would take over shops in the city centre with dance, lighting, music, visual art and performance from not just Coventry, but the rest of the UK, Europe and even the United States.

• The former Fishy Moores ‘chippy’ in the city is home to the first ever Shop Front Theatre and in 2018 it will help stage a pilot Shop Front Festival, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

• A 2.2-mile Ring Road poem is set to be one of the digital centrepieces of 2021. It will only be experienced in full by travelling around the ring road.

• Major productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the screening of the entire works of Shakespeare in iconic locations.

• An artist-led festival called ‘Moments of Silence’ which will create moments of silence and beauty and reflect on the city’s 700-year-old Carthusian monastery Charterhouse and play on the myth of being ‘Sent to Coventry’.

• Building on the success of 95-year-Old Indian Photographer Masterji’s exhibition, the city will develop a project, Tale of Two Streets, that looks at two of the most diverse streets in Britain through the eyes of photographers.

• Local arts company Motionhouse Dance, which performed at Aarhus European Capital of Culture in September and participated in the 2016 Coventry Godiva Festival, will create a large-scale dance spectacle on the roof of a Coventry car park.

Around 200 projects were submitted ahead of the bid; this was eventually reduced for the final bid document.

However, although only 30-40 ideas were included in the document, organisers have said they expect the year itself to consist of more than 1,000 events.

Coventry law firm Mander Hadley Solicitors, which has backed the campaign since the outset, recently held an art competition for art, photography and design students at Coventry College, calling for entries depicting ‘What Coventry means to me’.

What Coventry means to me

Four finalists were chosen, from more than 80 entries, to have their works displayed prominently on signage outside the firm’s offices at 1 The Quadrant for a week.

The overall winner will be announced at an event in February.

Jonathan Hall, managing director at Mander Hadley Solicitors, said: “As a firm which has been established in Coventry for more than a century and has assisted generations of local families, we are delighted that the city has been named UK City of Culture 2021.

“This is an exciting boost for Coventry, which will bring in millions of pounds of investment, as well as international exposure, as we have seen in Hull this year.

“We have been privileged to be part of the bid and I would like to congratulate the entire bid team on their efforts as we now look ahead to the next four years.”

Pictured are the winners of Mander Hadley’s ‘What Coventry means to me’ art competition – Ashleigh Roach, with ‘Religious Family’, Billy Clarke, with ‘Historic Icons’, Jonathan Hall, George Millerchip, with ‘Cathedral Scenes’ and Jasmine Baguley, with ‘Godiva’.

Earlier this year – and in conjunction with the City of Culture bid, The Belgrade Theatre held a competition to name Coventry’s favourite song.

The campaign was launched in connection with the Belgrade’s new musical, Godiva Rocks, which celebrated the city’s musical history.

The winning song was Ghost Town by The Specials, the city being known as the birthplace of Two Tone, which spanned equally successful bands such as The Selector.

Whether the record label forms part of the celebrations is yet to seen.

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