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Coventry really IS a Great Place to live

16 March 2017

We’re delighted to announce that we have been successful in securing £1.5million of funding, which will provide a major boost to the city’s culture and tourism. We are one of only 16 cities to secure an award as part of the Great Place Scheme, an initiative run by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.


Coventry City of Culture Trust submitted the successful bid based on a vision for a Place Partnership for the city, and building on Coventry’s newly launched cultural strategy. The partnership is made up Coventry City Council, Coventry University, The University of Warwick (including Warwick Arts Centre), Coventry’s Business Improvement District, the private sector as well as the BBC, Coventry Telegraph, and the Coventry & Warwickshire LEP as partners.


The programme of work will take place over three years and will involve new events and art commissions including: a major new arts commission for Coventry Cathedral in 2018, festivals to bring the city centre to life including a pilot Shop Front Festival, and projects which celebrate Coventry’s medieval and modern architecture.


It will also include new city trails and artist-designed mapping; a theatre project looking at the importance of the workplace in bringing cultures together in the city; plans for a new tourism strategy and website for the city; and a national conference at Coventry University on managing cultural and heritage assets.


We worked really closely with many of the city’s arts groups on our bid for Great Place funding, including Talking Birds, Shop Front Theatre, Historic Coventry, Culture Coventry, and the Photo Archive Miners whose successful Masterji exhibition at Fargo Village has inspired one of the first projects in Great Places.


A Masterji publication will kick-off a new project to collect archive film and photography from two of Coventry’s most diverse and vibrant streets, Foleshill Road and Far Gosford Street. Starting late 2017, the project will be led by the team who produced Imagine Hillfields and Masterji – a photographic project which moved so many of its 2,000 visitors and is now on display in Mumbai.


Three of the awards backers are coming together in a major project to examine Coventry as a “Work Place”. Led by the University of Warwick with partners Culture Coventry and the Belgrade Youth Theatre, it will look at oral histories and records from Coventry’s manufacturing and engineering history and how Coventry’s ‘Work Place’ has formed the place we live.


Councillor Linda Bigham, Cabinet Member for Community Development said: “This is great news for the city, as Coventry is placing culture at the heart of its plans for the future.  There is a strong partnership emerging in the city and the award from the Great Place Scheme is the first evidence of how our grassroots work with the city’s new cultural strategy can deliver social and economic benefits for the city.”


Professor John Latham, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “We are at the heart of making Coventry a Great Place in which to study and live – and a compelling visitor destination.


“Our students belong to one of the most diverse, modern cities in the UK and this project helps us to tell the story of Coventry’s place in the world.”


University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft said “Coventry has two great Universities that have each added significantly to the City’s international reputation and cultural offering. In Warwick’s case this is most evident in: Warwick Arts Centre (one of the largest arts complexes in the UK outside of London), and the widely acclaimed final report of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value.


“We also have a wealth of arts research and activity across the campus that has led directly to partnerships such as the recent Ira Aldridge and Paul Robeson celebration at the Belgrade Theatre, and the hugely successful ‘The Story of Children’s Television’ exhibition held in the city’s Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.”


Laura McMillan, Manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust – which was established to bring forward the city’s bid to be the UK City of Culture in 2021, said: “Great Places is a massive vote of confidence in the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the 75 businesses who are backing us.


“It will take time to develop the programme but from 2018 we will see some exceptional events and projects engaging all ages in the city’s heritage, architecture and cultural life. This award will also help build capacity and showcase the creativity of our independent cultural sector.”


Trish Willetts, Coventry Business Improvement District manager, said: “As a major partner in the application process for the Great Place Scheme we are absolutely delighted with the outcome.


“It will be exciting to see the fantastic programme of events come together because of this amazing amount of money, and Coventry Business Improvement District and all of our businesses will be fully supporting everything that takes place.”


Peter Knott, Area Director, Midlands, Arts Council England said: “Art and culture make the places we live vibrant and exciting, entertaining and inspiring us, benefiting our wellbeing and boosting local economies. It will be great to see this investment strengthen partnerships across Coventry: engaging the cultural sector, universities, local communities and businesses to showcase the renaissance of a great city.”


So, keep your eyes peeled for news about some Great Places activity coming to Coventry soon …

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