Coventry City of Culture Trust has been awarded £200,000 by a national foundation.

The funding from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will support the Trust’s work in making Coventry 2021 even more inclusive as well as leaving a legacy of increased skills and cultural engagement in the city.

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation was founded in 1961 and is one of the UK’s largest independent funders. Among its aims are supporting creative, confident communities and creating a fairer future, both aims which fit with Coventry City of Culture Trust’s ambitions to increase skills and cultural engagement as well as opening up opportunities for more people to create and curate in the city.

By becoming a Coventry 2021 City Champion, the foundation is supporting four key strands of the Trust’s delivery; disability inclusion, cultural education, leadership development and widening participation in volunteering.

The funding is supporting the creation of a Disability Inclusion Manager post and contributing towards making the programme fully accessible to D/deaf, disabled and/or neurodivergent employees, artists, audience members, stakeholders, participants, and volunteers.

It is also supporting the role of the Trust’s Arts Education Manager and contributing to the delivery of the extensive programme of engagement work with schools and colleges which includes workshops, site visits, digital resources, in-school performances and continued professional development opportunities for teachers.

The grant will be used to support the ongoing development of the Trust’s two-year Leadership Programme for 15 of Coventry based cultural and social entrepreneurs, building on the support from Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership programme.

Finally, the support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation will help to extend the reach of the already successful £1m volunteering programme to ensure that the City Host programme is even more youthful, diverse and inclusive.

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “We are delighted to receive this level of support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

“Not only will it enable us to ensure that we can make our year as UK City of Culture even more inclusive, it will help us to leave that all-important legacy for Coventry of increased skills and cultural engagement in the city”.

Alison Holdom, Arts Lead at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said “We think everyone should have access to culture and creativity where they live, and are delighted to be playing a part in Coventry’s UK City of Culture year.”


Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 started on 15 May 2021, running for 12 months. The 365-day cultural programme will reflect Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives. Coventry is known internationally as a city of welcome, a city of activists and pioneers, peace and reconciliation, 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 will celebrate with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle. As well as these big celebrations, it will show its unexpected side, with more intimate experiences and ways to get involved in every neighbourhood. And it’s not just Coventry. This epic celebration will also witness the entire region getting involved and benefitting from the opportunities that being City of Culture brings.

It is co-created with the people of Coventry and bring about long-term social, economic and cultural benefits.

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021’s Principal Partners are Coventry City Council, West Midlands Combined Authority, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Lottery Community Fund, Warwickshire County Council, Spirit of 2012, Coventry University and the University of Warwick.

Its Major Partners are Coventry Building Society and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Its International Partner is the British Council. Its Regional Partner is Coventry Building Society Arena.

Its City Champions are Coventry College, Exasoft, Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Orbit Group, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and PET-Xi.

Its Loyalty Partner is TRG Arts, and its Honorary Partner is the Positive Youth Foundation.

Its Delivery Partners are Coventry Business Improvement District, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, EnV and West Midlands Police.