Coventry UK City of Culture announces first shows for Assembly Festival Garden, further events as part of a Summer of Surprises, Home - a festival of arts and homelessness, and a year-long Festival of Ideas to take place in the city
Today, 2 June, Coventry City of Culture Trust announces further events taking place throughout the year, marking the return to major live events as restrictions ease. With major festivals, circus shows and outdoor art exhibitions taking place across the year, Coventry UK City of Culture offers many fun-filled ways to explore the city and the stories of its people.
The programme reflects 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
Circolombia and Choir of Man are the first shows to be announced at the Assembly Festival Garden, a major new festival hub in the city centre that will present live theatre, cabaret and comedy. Performances will take place in the Spiegeltent; the Piccolo, a smaller 180 seat Spiegeltent; a treehouse that will look out over the site; and an outdoor venue in front of the Piccolo which can play to the entire audience in the Garden. The site will be run by Edinburgh Fringe favourites Assembly Festival and be a centrepiece for the city’s year of cultural celebrations opening, with Choir of Man opening on 1 July and Circolombia on 2 July.
Fresh from Bogotá, Circolombia will see one of the world's leading contemporary circus companies bring their sassy show featuring jaw dropping acts, transporting the raw energy of Colombia's capital city to Coventry. Runaway global sensation, Choir of Man, sees "the ultimate feel-good show of the Fringe," come to Coventry. Audiences can expect the most incredible pub gig they’ve ever been to as they enjoy pop tunes, folk, rock and Broadway numbers with world-class tappers, singers and multi-instrumentalists.
Coventry’s Summer of Surprises continues with the spectacular Midsummer Fire Garden in Caludon Castle Park on 25 & 26 June. An adventure in a fiery night-time landscape, it will feature Walk the Plank’s intricately carved botanically themed fire sculptures alongside the incredible Dr Kronovator’s Fire Laboratory installation by Emergency Exit Arts. Also part of Summer of Surprises, Coventry Pride will present Classically Queer, a special performance of classical and contemporary music in the stunning setting of Coventry Cathedral Ruins celebrating the best of LGBTQI+ musicians in the region.
Starting from July, the Festival of Ideas will be a year-round programme of talks, debates and conferences confronting the big issues of our time. It will see national and international collaborations with ground-breaking organisations presenting everything from political debate and citizens’ assemblies to intimate interviews. Programme announced today includes the Psychology of the City Summit, The Big Tent Ideas Festival 2021, and Made in the Midlands, a new podcast featuring interviews with well-known faces from the region.
Coventry is the “city that moves”, with a history of movements and activism, and remains a hotbed of social action today. Home, Coventry’s first Art and Homelessness Festival will open 8 to 16 October with a programme that explores art for social change. Highlights include Cardboard Citizens with the first ever homeless musical with music composed by Chumbawamba; an exhibition with socially engaged-photographer Anthony Luvera as part of his Assisted Self Portraits series, working with people with lived experience of homelessness to develop their photography skills and curate the exhibition.
Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Irish community of the city will host FÉILE 2021, an annual event run by Comhaltas in Britain, with a weekend of traditional Irish music, dance, activities and storytelling in the city and around the UK. This culminates in the All-Britain Finals of the Online Comhaltas Competitions, an incredible display of musical talent.
The Trust has also added further events and detail to its flagship Green Futures programme, supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, which works with local and global partners to connect communities with nature and heritage, grow social connections, and build green knowledge. Flock Together challenges the underrepresentation of people of colour in nature on a series of scouted bird watching walks, and We Come Far is a Black led artist walk in green spaces to encourage wellbeing in men, especially those who are Black, Asian or from the global majority groups
Meanwhile Open Theatre presents Uncover/Discover, with a variety of artistic works created with young people with learning disabilities and inspired by the waterways of the city. Tickets also go on sale for Small Bells Ring, an extraordinary floating library crammed full of short stories created in partnership with the Coventry Library Service, which arrives in Coventry Canal basin this summer.
Running from 15 - 17 June at Warwick Arts Centre, Petticoat Council, tells the story of the ‘Petticoat Council’ which was formed by a group of women from Bishop’s Itchington in rural Warwickshire. They became the first female majority council in Britain, breaking down barriers to transform their community. Presented by BoysClub & Steph Hartland Productions, supported by Warwick Arts Centre and Coventry City of Culture Trust.
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director for Coventry City of Culture said:
“From our Summer of Surprises and the arrival of the Assembly Festival Gardens in the city, locations all over Coventry will be coming back to life with a range of incredible shows, events, walks, talks and activities. Whether you are from Coventry or visiting us for the first time, as lockdown is lifting there are plenty of ways to get involved, experience something new, and get out and about with family and friends in the coming months.”
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, which has supported with a £5 million grant to the City of Culture Trust, and supported other events across the city through National Lottery grants, said:
“We’re really excited about the latest programme launch, in particular the return of planned live events, and we’re pleased that Coventry’s year is finally here for the community to enjoy.”
“The first two events from the Assembly Festival Garden and Feile 2021 will inspire and excite audiences and will provide opportunities for new talent and leaders to emerge from the city. We know that arts and culture can play a key part in enhancing wellbeing, so we hope that experiencing world class arts and culture on their doorstop will be uplifting for local people.”