To celebrate Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 world-renowned theatre and event director Nigel Jamieson and Belgrade Theatre 2021 co-artistic director Justine Themen will create a city wide movement inviting audiences to join the celebrations.
As the Coventry 2021 programme commences, the currently untitled event will see Jamieson and Themen devise and create alongside international artists and residents including local young people, families, schools, faith organisations, performers, choirs and sport and community groups. Uniting residents to explore the values at the heart of the city, and their hopes for the future, citizens of the city will take part in hundreds of workshops to create music, performance and dance for the event and build structures across the city, culminating in a spectacle on a scale the city has never seen before. It will create a powerful and diverse story about the spirit and energy of Coventry and celebrate the voices of people from every ward in the city.
Nigel Jamieson was part of the team that created the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony and has since directed Ceremonies and Events around the world for the Commonwealth Games, Pacific Games, World Expo and the Openings of the European Capital of Cultures in Liverpool and Aarhus, Denmark, where he directed the Opening for the 2017 European City of Culture.
Justine Themen is Deputy Artistic Director of the Belgrade Theatre and Co-Artistic Director of its City of Culture programme. She has lived and worked in Coventry since 2003, is a leading figure in the Coventry arts scene and played a major role in the city’s bid for City of Culture. Her work focuses on diversifying the stories brought to the stage and reaching audiences that are typically less likely to engage with theatre and cultural programming, which has had a significant impact on the artistic vision for the Belgrade over the last six years. She has a strong track record for co-creating work with communities & young people and for promoting & directing the work of writers of colour.
Nigel Jamieson said: ‘Getting to know Coventry has been fascinating, and it has been deeply impressive to see the way the City of Culture Trust is seeking to engage the city in this great moment in Coventry’s history, seeking the widest and most diverse engagement of its people. Following the challenges of these recent dark months it is a particular important time to offer the world images of beauty, light, imagination and hope, featuring communities directly engaged in forging images of the future to which they aspire. Events such as these only come to a city once in a lifetime, and I hope as many people as possible will join us on what will be a thrilling journey and experience they will not forget.’
Justine Themen said: ‘Exciting things happen when you collaborate with communities and invest trust, time and resource in them to create something extraordinary. It is not only where some of the most exciting work happens artistically, but also where real and lasting change can come about in the world that we live in. Coinciding with emerging from a global pandemic, Coventry City of Culture gives us a chance to lead the way in how we create work, whose stories we tell, what platforms we give them, and what impact those stories can have on the world around us. It will be a truly landmark moment to project the voices of our co-creators on a city-wide scale.’
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry 2021, said: ‘Nigel Jamieson and Justine Themen are the perfect pairing to kick off our year in truly spectacular style. But they are only part of the team, and that’s where it gets really exciting. The event, which will be created over the coming months, will be truly made in Coventry.’