Over 50 venues across Coventry will open their doors to the public as part of a four-day celebration of the city’s creative sector, with more than 200 events set to unfold across the city centre and beyond.
Entitled ‘Coventry Opens’, the city-wide campaign to promote local cultural venues and other spaces in the city has been organised by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and will be a great way for local people to discover more of what’s on offer on their doorstep.
There will be music all over the city – in the usual performance and spaces like halls and theatres, but also in faith spaces, in tents, in the library, in cafes and bars, in shops, pubs with open mics – and on a canal boat. There will be African drumming and discos, orchestras, acoustic gigs, an all-day rave, and three choirs to try.
It will also include a world premiere and a piece of walking theatre, tours, and theatre in libraries and community centres, plus comedy and spoken word, cabaret, poetry both live and on display, museums, and loads of family-friendly entertainment.
It is also an opportunity for people to rediscover places they haven’t visited since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and rebuild their confidence, while, at the same, seeing some of the investment in the city over the past two years.
The campaign marks the beginning of the City of Culture Trust’s May celebrations and is shining a spotlight on the people and places that make up the city’s creative culture, with the public invited into the city’s performance spaces, cultural organisations and other venues across the city. ‘Coventry Opens’ runs from Thursday, 5 May to Sunday, 8 May and access to many events is free.
More than 50 Coventry institutions from The Belgrade Theatre and Warwick Arts Centre to libraries, community centres, and faith buildings will host activities across the four days to continue building connections with new communities who have engaged with arts, culture and their local venues across the city over the last year.
Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for the public to engage with the diverse array of spaces and venues across the city, as we open the door to them for a long weekend of wide-ranging activities.
“We’ve had two years of on/off restrictions and this is a great opportunity to go back to some of those places people visited before the pandemic and also discover new places or see venues in a different light after so much investment brought about by City of Culture.
“Among the highlights will be the world premiere of a brand-new play, heritage sites hosting open days, craft sessions, visual art, poetry and music all over the city with open mics and choral singing for everyone to get involved in.
“The enthusiasm that the city’s venues and organisations have shown to get involved in Coventry Opens has been inspiring. It’s a strong indication that Coventry residents will continue to have plenty of arts and entertainment to sink their teeth into once the City of Culture year ends.
“And, what’s more, it will show that the people of the city can decide what they want culture to be in Coventry in the months and years ahead. Our work with communities during our year as City of Culture has shown that art and culture belong to the people of Coventry and they will have a say in that in the years to come.”
Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture 2021 will culminate in a range of celebration events throughout May and beyond.
The UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, The Reel Store will open at the Telegraph Hotel on Friday, 13 May. Later that evening, and repeating on Saturday, 14 May, The Awakening, a world premiere by ground-breaking French company Gratte Ciel will take place above Broadgate. Saturday, 14 May also sees Coventry’s City Centre being taken over by This is the City, a free carnival-style spectacular parade featuring just some of the City of Culture’s greatest hits from the last 12 months. On Sunday, 15 May, Our Wilder Family, a spectacular artist-led drone show inspired by the movements of flocks of birds, will take to the skies above the city.
Wildlife Gathering takes centre stage on the third weekend (Friday 20 to Sunday 22 May), with Coventry's myriad of parks and green spaces being celebrated with activities. The festivities conclude with Radio 1’s Big Weekend coming to Coventry’s War Memorial Park from Friday, 27 to Sunday, 29 May with Harry Styles recently announced as one of the headliners.
A full e-brochure, a map, and listings for ‘Coventry Opens’ are all available here from 26 April.
ABOUT COVENTRY UK CITY OF CULTURE 2021
Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 commenced on 15 May 2021, running for 12 months. The 365-day cultural programme reflects Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives. Coventry is the UK’s only city of peace and reconciliation, and known internationally as a city of welcome, a city of activists and pioneers, innovation, and invention, and now a City of Culture.
Coventry is the city where movement began, from innovation in the transport industry to a history of welcome, it has moved people for centuries. For a whole year, Coventry is celebrating with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle. As well as the expected celebrations, it is throwing a spotlight onto city voices with a range of hyper local experiences and ways to get involved across every neighbourhood. And it’s not just Coventry. This epic celebration also witnesses the entire region getting involved and benefitting from the opportunities that being City of Culture brings.
Our year of culture is co-created with the people of Coventry and is bringing about long-term social, economic, and cultural benefits.