Since starting our year on 15th May 2021 we have enjoyed a summer of surprises. The sun has been shining, and our city has been transformed with colourful art installations, the splash of children in fountains and the sounds of people coming back together again. And there has been an incredible array of events, large and small, taking place in parks, by canals, and on high streets, and many hidden public spaces across the city. We’ve come together to express our freedom, created sanctuaries and celebrated harmony in the city. We’ve danced, sung, laughed and been moved by the many wonderful people, artists, shows that have taken place in the city and been led by so many of our creative communities. Coventry has truly moved.
Today is the International Day of Peace, created by the United Nations as a time to devote ourselves to thinking about creating a utopian culture of peace. And as Coventry Moves into the autumn this is a time for reflection, to explore how we can live more peacefully in our world and in harmony with our planet. A chance to throw a spotlight onto some of the big issues that we live with daily, that are local to us, but also have a global resonance.
Over the last few weeks we have seen how fragile our people, our places, our systems can be. Whilst revisiting atrocities from the past, across the world we can see people still trying to survive conflict, fleeing devastation to save themselves and their families or seeking equality and justice. And of course many global citizens can hear the cries of Mother Earth as climate emergency is ever present.
Faith in humanity and in the upholding of our rights is so essential at these times, and Coventry has turned flames into hope and ruin into beauty, reaching out in reconciliation to twin souls the world over. Last week we explored Faith, what keeps us strong in tough times and the ingredients for living a good life. Over 24hrs we listened, talked, shared food and convened to show unity in an expression of love, friendship and better understanding.
Next weekend over 4 days we will host the biggest festival of poetry and spoken word ever held in the West Midlands Region, Contains Strong Language in partnership with the BBC. There will be live and broadcast events taking place across the city centre and we will be announcing a new Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate for the city. So many topics and themes will be explored as well as a spotlight on local artists, school children and some unexpected guests. Following this, The Battle of Ideas at our Festival Garden will explore cancel culture and creative freedoms. Talking Birds’ Art for the People will continue the discussion with communities on the role and value of arts and culture in society and Punchdrunk’s Lost Lending Library will stir the imaginations and creativity of our children engaging them in fantastical story worlds.
The Turner Prize arrives for its debut in the Midlands and will display the surprising artwork from 5 extraordinary British collectives all throwing a spotlight onto local-global issues. Sitting alongside the 3rd Coventry Biennial which will reflect on what has made Coventry and the surrounding area unique while also reflecting on an increasingly complex world. HYPER-POSSIBLE, will explore the legacies of artist-led activism marking the city as an outstanding exemplar of innovative, experimental and radical artistic thought and practice. Building on this, a new radio play on BBC Radio3 about the actor/director Ira Aldridge This Little Relic and a new documentary on 2Tone The Sound of Coventry will also be shown on BBC1, putting Coventry artists at the centre of the struggle for racial harmony, peace and justice.
Over the autumn we are working with communities across the city to shine a light on lived experiences of people in our city and to open conversations and develop understanding. Whether memory walks following stories about dementia Theatre of Wandering, a festival that explore homelessness, mental health and isolation HOME, or the stories of the many refugees seeking sanctuary in our city and especially the many unaccompanied children The Walk. Seaview a new digital drama series created by Belgrade theatre will explore one man’s struggle to escape a cycle of poverty, crime and violence. We will bring these stories to life through live performance, in short films and through our broadcast channels to understand how we can make a difference, how we can reform the norm.
As we head towards COP26, the global conference on climate emergency in Glasgow, we will shine a spotlight onto our green futures and ensure that you can join in the discussion, promoting understanding and seeking action and change Walking Forest. Led by young people and women, this is a cry to listen to Mother Earth as she cries out for our help and to influence change from our global leaders to finally take action. With our partners at Global Rising Forum we will discuss our futures and share the perspectives of young adults from Coventry, Detroit, Bogota, Beirut and Nairobi, from our Youthful Cities programme.
Our Love Coventry programme continues to put creativity at the centre of our communities and in October you’ll have a chance to Try It Cov, a huge weekend of events and activities for all the family to take part in, Theatre Next Door, created in partnership with local community centres bringing great theatre to your doorstep, Coventry Sound Systems big music nights at Fargo and Abundance created with our south Asian communities.
We promised that our year would be full of joy and playfulness with a strong social conscience. Our autumn programme aims to provide engaging, entertaining events and activities, that help us think and understand each other and our wonderful world better and empower us to make change.