27th Oct, 2021

Black artists and early years groups across Coventry get £69,000 funding boost

EIGHT organisations have been awarded £69,000 worth of grant funding by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Heart of England Community Foundation.

The majority – £40,000 – will be invested in Coventry based black artists and a further £29,000 in projects that support early years children to unleash their creativity during Coventry’s year as City of Culture.

The funds will support new creative projects taking place before the end of May 2022 with a dedicated Coventry City of Culture Trust producer working alongside the grantees to support the projects.

Through the Black Artists Fund, Steppers UK, Fridays Coventry, Maokwo (granted by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation through Heart of England Community Foundation) and Ezequiel King will receive up to £10,000 each.

This investment reinforces the City of Culture Trust’s commitment to the ‘More Than A Moment’ pledge – the West Midlands arts sector’s promise to take radical, bold and immediate action to dismantle the systems that have kept black artists and creatives from achieving their potential in the arts and cultural industries.

The Under-Fives Project Grants will support four new projects, including the creation of a specialised ‘sonic’ playground at The Tin Music and Arts and a programme of arts and craft sessions delivered by the Coventry Muslim Resource Centre.

Flatpack Projects will also receive a grant to create sensorial experiences for children with special educational needs and complex disabilities, while the Wriggle Dance Centre will develop an interactive cinema experience for early years’ audiences.

Tyler Campbell, Fridays Coventry’s founder, said: “We as the Fridays team are so grateful to get this funding as we know that it will really make a difference to the areas of Coventry that need things to come to them- rather than always watching from the side-lines.

“We will bring Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood to the doorsteps of Cov. It is going to be brilliant, and I know we are going to find some mad talent out there too.”

Cherelle Harding, SteppersUK’s CEO and Founder, added: “Outdoor activities were not something I grew up knowing much about and this is similar for many others that look just like me.

“The outdoors has so many benefits and is vital for mental health.

“I’m excited to encourage more of my community to explore the outdoors.

“There are so many beautiful spaces within and around Coventry. It’s time to shift the narrative.”

Chrissie Okorie, project manager and producer at Maokwo, said the organisation was passionate about empowering young people from marginalised communities in Coventry.

“With this exhibition we hope to break barriers in the arts and culture sector.

“Working with young people to redefine what culture means to them.

“Allowing them to take ownership of the arts and culture scene in Coventry.”

Amy Smart, head of partnerships at Flatpack Projects, said: “We’re delighted to bring this project to Coventry for the city’s year as City of Culture.

“Touchscreen goes beyond the multiplex and traditional film or theatre going, allowing people to experience film in ways meaningful to them.”

Kath Kimber-McTiffen, co-director at Wriggle Dance Theatre, said was ‘thrilled’ the Coventry City of Culture Trust was supporting ‘Squidge’.

“It means we can offer this interactive cinema experience to more children and families, at a time when more than ever people have been starved of access to live arts experience.

“This opportunity enables us to reach out to those families with young children who are missing out on going to the theatre, something we feel passionately should be available to everyone.”

Tina Costello, Heart of England Community Foundation’s chief executive, said its relationship with the City of Culture Trust had seen so many organisations and individuals prosper.

“Both the Black Artist Fund and the Under-Fives Grants will provide vital funding to several fabulous projects.”

Martin Sutherland, the Coventry City of Culture Trust’s chief executive, added they were delighted to announce the grant recipients with each one bringing something unique and crucial to supporting the creativity of underfunded parts of the arts and culture sector.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of fantastic artists and organisations that applied and are thrilled these eight projects will get the funding and professional support they need to succeed.”

He added he was grateful to the applicants and urged people to keep an eye out for further Heart of England Community Foundation grant opportunities during the next phase of Coventry’s UK City of Culture celebrations.

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