A COFFEE shop owner cried with relief after learning his bid for £78,000 for financial support from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund had been successful.
Steve Prime, director at Esquires Coffee Coventry, is raising a cup to a more certain future with culture collaborations planned during what should be a fantastic year for the city.
Prior to the pandemic, Millennium Place had been at the heart of the Coventry community for over 12 years, supporting numerous local organisations and events and business was performing well, celebrating its best year to date.
Then, like many businesses, Esquires was hit hard by Covid.
Steve was struggling to see a way out of the situation but, with the support of Coventry BID director Trish Willetts, he submitted a funding application to Arts Council England in the hope of securing the future of the business and it was successful.
He said: “I won’t pretend that I haven’t had some very dark moments over the past months, as I’ve tried to fathom how we could come back from everything post-Covid.
“This past 12 months has easily been the worst in our 12-year trading history”.
“My goal in applying for the ACE funding was to shore up the finances of the business, so we could rebuild and restore Esquires to its place at the heart of the community.
“In doing so, we can continue to support other local organisations, as well as provide Coventrians with more amazing cultural events.
“Over the years we have been the opening venue for the Coventry Jazz Festival, hosted fashion shows and Open Mic Nights, welcomed Fairtrade School lessons and supported many University organisation events.”
Steve admitted to shedding a tear after learning the grant application was successful.
He added: “The team have all been absolutely fantastic and so understanding throughout, so it’s a joy to be able to share such amazing news with them.
“We are all delighted to get this opportunity to continue this work, especially as we move into the UK City of Culture year. I can’t wait to bring our plans to life.”
Trish said: “We were honoured to be able to support Steven and the Esquires team with their application for ACE funding and absolutely delighted to hear that they were successful.
“We are very much looking forward to seeing how the funding will help to bring the business back to life again after such a tough year and can’t wait to celebrate with them at their first cultural event.”
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said the record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund had already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they had ever faced.
“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic.
“These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work.”
He expressed his gratitude to the Government for its support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to the sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.