Image: Firebird by Emergency Exit Arts, photo by Dylan Parrin
Surprise events and pop-up performances have struck a summer chord with thousands throughout Coventry and the wider region after a survey revealed the positive impact of the latest round of City of Culture celebrations.
Summer of Surprises was part of Coventry City of Culture Trust’s programme of events between May and September, with more than three quarters of respondents stating performances had a positive impact on their impression of Coventry.
Further audiences were delighted by impromptu events that were spread beyond the city centre, with pop-up performances taking place across all 18 wards.
Performances took place in a variety of locations including bus stops and beer gardens, much to the surprise of local residents, many of whom enjoyed their first live events since the pandemic began.
The Summer of Surprises programme, which included major events such as the spectacular Midsummer Fire Gardens in Caludon Castle Park, and a breath-taking performance from world-leading high wire artist Chris Bullzini at Compton Verney in neighbouring Warwickshire, drew an audience of around 14,000 people.
Bands in the Park, a series of free-to-attend mini concerts taking place across the city’s parks on Sunday afternoons produced by Coventry City Council, will continue to run until the end of September.
Other events included Bands in Pub Gardens, the drive-in screenings of BBC documentaries in the city, International Buskers Day, Classically Queer in the Cathedral Ruins and LGBTQi+ commissions in the city.
A new Three Lions Mural was unveiled in Hillfields to commemorate England’s performance at the Euros, while the Trust supported the successful Godiva Festival with Bollywood and South Asian programming.
One visitor said: “It was amazing to be able to get out of the house and get back to watching live events and most of all amazing that this was on my doorstep.”
Another added: “They were exciting and enthralling performances, they brought joy and wonderment back in my life after so much enforced loneliness.”
Chenine Bhathena of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see the widespread impact that the Summer of Surprises has had over the last few months, and great to hear that the people of Coventry have appreciated the long-awaited return of live events. We have visited wonderful parks and iconic green spaces all over the city as well as many high streets and neighbourhoods, bringing joy and entertainment to many hidden parts of the city and its residents.
“The Summer of Surprises kick started our summer building on Coventry Moves our opening event but was just one part of the huge variety of cultural events planned throughout our year. We have been fortunate that many of these events have coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions and people feeling more comfortable in attending public performances.
“We would like to thank all those who attended and provided feedback on their experiences. There will be plenty more opportunities to share in the City of Culture celebrations over the coming months.”
The Summer of Surprises events are part of UK City of Culture 2021 and were funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.