Despite all the difficulties of the past year, Jake Bartle and Emily Coleman are confident that this year’s festival will be a celebration of artistic achievement and are welcoming visitors with open arms.
This month Coventry begins its year as UK City of Culture 2021. Few industries have been hit quite as hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as ours. Theatres, cinemas, galleries, museums, concert halls and rehearsal spaces have been shut for the best part of a year, and audience members, as well as those of us working in the industry, have been counting down the days until all venues can open again.
For the wider arts and culture sector, the start of our City of Culture year marks the beginning of a re-emergence, a huge leap towards the return of a thriving and world-renowned UK arts sector. An important step on that journey is the establishment of the Coventry UK City of Culture Delegates Office.
As well as welcoming audience members, both local and those from further afield, Coventry City of Culture Trust is inviting professionals from across the arts and the creative industries to experience our artistic programme as delegates. We want those of you who could have an impact on the success of our local arts and culture sector to come and explore a new city and experience an enhanced Coventry 2021 programme, as a delegate.
Setting up a Delegates Office
A Delegates Office is not a common offering in the cultural sector; but we knew we had to have an offer of this kind. The West Midlands, and more specifically Coventry, is an all too often overlooked area for artistic talent and possibilities. So, when Coventry won the title of UK City of Culture back in 2017, we knew that changing perceptions and bringing a new wave of fruitful relationships would be a key aim – boosting the prospects of leaving a legacy from all the investment and effort.
Throughout the year we are going to be celebrating and championing the youthfulness and diversity of the city. We will be exploring digital innovation and, using new technologies, providing platforms for seldom heard voices, exploring our green future and building lasting international relationships.
Our programme includes events, exhibitions and collaborations, including the Turner Prize; Good Chance Theatre’s The Walk; the Royal Shakespeare Company’s city wide production Faith; music festivals curated by local music legends like the Home Sessions by Terry Hall and CVX Festival in collaboration with Jay1; and a UK theatre premiere, The Lost Lending Library, presented by Punchdrunk Enrichment.
Animating the public realm
Coventry City Council has collaborated closely on all its major public realm activity ensuring that artists take the lead as the city gets ready for its celebrations. Our cultural venues have had a makeover too with the Belgrade Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre, Draper’s Hall, the Herbert Art Gallery, Charterhouse, the Daimler Powerhouse and the Cathedral just some of the venues gearing up to welcome more than two million extra visitors this year.
Local creative and community organisations, artists and performers will take centre stage, though organisations including Highly Sprung Ludic Rooms, Theatre Absolute/Shop Front Theatre, Talking Birds, Refugee and Migrant Centre, Positive Youth Foundation and Imagineer will also be creating new works for 2021.
Connecting professionals with artists
Being a delegate means you will have a ‘front row’ seat to events and moments like this across the programme. You will also get the chance to meet those taking part in community and co-created events. But our priority at the Delegates Office is to connect decision makers, influencers and partners with local artists, makers and organisations – many of whom are creating new work with strong social value.
We look forward to meeting those of you who share our interest in reimagining the cultural sector in the wake of the pandemic; those who seek to develop new ways of working and collaborating; and those keen to discover the extraordinary artists and organisations who call Coventry home.
Within our city centre shop, we will be giving daily briefing sessions, providing delegates with a rundown of everything going on in the city that day, and helping you navigate your way around Coventry. We will also be on hand to help build itineraries which include City of Culture events, opportunities to independently explore the city, access to artists and producers, and time and space to wind down and network with fellow delegates.
No other city in the UK, or indeed the world, will see a cultural festival of this scale take place this year. Artistic directors, CEOs, programmers, producers, venue managers and gallery owners, arts funders and commissioners, academics and artists - register to be a delegate and experience all this and more for yourself. We can’t wait to welcome you.
Jake Bartle and Emily Coleman are Delegate Managers at Coventry City of Culture 2021
This article, sponsored and contributed by Coventry City of Culture 2021, is part of a series inviting professionals from across the arts and the creative industries to experience the cultural programme as Delegates.