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Dozens of staff are made redundant as charity files for administration amid three-year legacy programme.

Gratte Ciel perform the World Premiere of ‘The Awakening’ in Coventry, UK City of Culture, in one of the packed big celebration weekends. Photo credit - Lee Corden (1).jpg
Gratte Ciel perform ‘The Awakening’ in Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021

Lee Corden

Coventry City of Culture Trust, the charity responsible for running legacy projects following Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, appointed administrators today (28 February).

As a result, all staff have been made redundant and work is underway to realise the Trust’s assets.

A statement released by the board of trustees says the "incredibly difficult" decision to appoint administrators comes after “working to find solutions to the Trust’s financial challenges and to secure the future of the Trust’s legacy programme”.


Previous reports had suggested Coventry City of Culture Trust was in a difficult financial position.

Last October, staff from the University of Warwick and Coventry University – two of the Trust’s key partners – quit the board, citing a decision to accept a £1m bail-out loan from the City Council last year, which councillors have now been briefed is unlikely to be repaid.

On Friday (24 February), the Charity Commission confirmed it was probing the charity’s finances.

The Trust’s statement released today adds: "We have not been able to find a solution to secure the future of the Trust.

"However, we have continued to work closely with those who had pledged legacy funding, to try to protect those funds for the city and its cultural organisations.

"Details of these arrangements are not finalised, but we expect this to be clearer in the next few weeks."

The joint administrators, from Armstrong Watson, are expected to make a further statement.

Success or embarassment?

Coventry's stint as UK City of Culture 2021, which began later than anticipated due to the pandemic, is estimated to have attracted more than 1m people, secured more than £172m in direct investment and contributed to a boost in the area's visitor economy.

"Although the Trust’s activities have come to an end earlier than anticipated, Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture has had a huge impact on the city and its positive influence will be felt for many, many years to come," the Trust's statement continues.

"The legacy includes increased levels of civic pride, volunteering, and active citizenship, transformed public realm and cultural facilities and a strengthened and more connected cultural sector."

An Arts Council England spokesperson said the funder is "saddened" to hear the Trust is entering administration and confirmed it had been aware of the financial issues, which it had been monitoring closely.

"We have been satisfied that the public money invested has been put to good use to produce the high quality cultural activity expected," the spokesperson said.

BBC Coventry and Warwickshire political reporter Simon Glibert called the development "an embarrassing ending to Coventry’s moment in the spotlight and an embarrassing moment for the government’s UK City of Culture project".

"Millions of pounds destined for the city for cultural projects is now unlikely to be received. Although efforts to divert the funding elsewhere in the city will be made, it appears that will be extremely challenging.

"Questions over how the Trust, which has been responsible for tens of millions of pounds of public money, got into this financial mess are unlikely to disappear."