Photos by Kelly Walsh.
The search is on for ten more community-minded Coventry individuals or groups and organisations who have an idea for a creative project that they would like to develop to benefit their area of the city during the UK City of Culture 2021.
Coventry City of Culture Trust and 64 Million Artists have launched the second phase of the Community Connectors programme.
They are looking for individual community members, or those from grassroots organisations and community groups from Wyken, Longford, Bablake, Upper Stoke, Cheylesmore, Binley & Willenhall, Sherbourne, Westwood, Whoberley and Woodlands.
Projects can be anything from creating an artistic piece that represents and celebrates the community, improving and using community spaces or putting on a community event or festival.
A budget of up to £4,000 is available for each of these projects.
Eight Community Connectors were appointed in the first phase of the programme in February covering the City Centre, Earlsdon, Finham & Styvechale, Foleshill, Henley Green, Holbrooks, North West Coventry and Stoke Aldermoor. They have been receiving specialist training, mentoring and networking, delivered by 64 Million Artists, to help them develop their ideas and skills.
Boyanka Bobeva, Emilie Jones, Kelly Walsh, Kevin Conway, Kieran Joseph, Mel Gregory, Priya Gondalia and Theo Ioannou have since been busy working towards creating their own artistic community projects which included: improving the community garden at Foleshill Community Centre to supply more vegetables for the members of its Social Supermarket, making a short film “Sanctuary of our City” as an artistic platform for women who are refugees, asylum seekers or migrants in Coventry, and staging a one-day festival celebrating Bulgarian culture, food and traditions by and for people from Coventry.
Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted to be expanding the Community Connectors programme, in partnerships with the National Lottery Community Fund. It’s great to be able to build on the success of the collaborations with the first eight connectors, which started at the end of last year
“We know that the people of Coventry care deeply about their local communities, their heritage and cultural lives of the friends and families and that there are plenty more people who have ideas to help celebrate and support their neighbours and area of the city.
“This is a great opportunity for people and groups in Wyken, Longford, Bablake, Upper Stoke, Cheylesmore, Binley & Willenhall, Sherbourne, Westwood, Whoberley and Woodlands to develop these ideas and do something wonderful for their communities and really take part in the city of Culture celebrations.”
Chris Rolls, from 64 Million Artists, said: “Coventry is full of people passionate about creativity, culture and community. The Community Connectors programme aims to take individuals and groups with ideas and help them flourish. It is a privilege to work with them.”
Emilie Jones, the Community Connector for Finham and Styvechale said: “Being a Community Connector has been a wonderful experience. I feel proud to have represented my area and the city that I love during this special year. I was fortunate to meet so many inspiring people during my project and am hugely grateful to everyone who contributed towards the final film.
“My confidence in myself as an artist has significantly increased and I am now taking on a variety of larger-scale projects and events - I am immensely grateful for the opportunities and support that this scheme has given me. It has also been valuable to stay in touch with several other Community Connectors, and we have since worked together on separate events too. A huge thank you to both Anna and Chris who led this scheme so well.
“Anyone who is interested in taking their creative career to the next level and who is passionate about working with communities in Coventry should apply for this.”
Community Connectors is part of the Love Coventry programme, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, which takes Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 to neighbourhoods and streets right across the city.
Find more information about the Community Connectors programme, including a video showcasing Connectors themselves at coventry2021.co.uk/community-connectors