COVENTRY has been awarded £1.5million to boost the city’s culture and tourism – including with major events and art commissions.
The city is one of only 16 to secure the award over three years from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England as part of the Great Place Scheme.
The successful bid was tabled by the Coventry City of Culture Trust, set up to bring forward the city’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.
A full programme of projects is now expected to be further developed. It includes:
* A major new arts commission for Coventry Cathedral in 2018.
* Festivals to bring the city centre to life including a pilot ‘Shop Front Festival’.
* Projects which celebrate Coventry’s medieval and modern architecture.
* New city trails and artist-designed mapping.
* A theatre project looking at the importance of the workplace in bringing cultures together in the city.
* A new tourism strategy and website.
* A national conference at Coventry University on managing cultural and heritage assets.
Many of the city’s arts groups have been involved in Great Place bid including Talking Birds, Shop Front Theatre, Historic Coventry, Culture Coventry, and the Photo Archive Miners whose successful Masterji exhibition at Fargo Village has inspired one of the first projects in Great Places.
A Masterji publication will kick-off a new project to collect archive film and photography from two of Coventry’s most diverse and vibrant streets, Foleshill Road
and Far Gosford Street.
Starting late this year, the project will be led by the team who produced Imagine Hillfields and Masterji – a photographic project which moved so many of its 2,000 visitors and is now on display in Mumbai.
Masterji was an immigrant from India who set up a successful photography studio in inner-city Hillfields – and recorded in portraits the lives of ordinary Coventry people in the mid to late 20th cetury.
Three of the award’s backers are coming together to examine Coventry as a “Work Place”. Led by the University of Warwick with partners Culture Coventry and the Belgrade Youth Theatre, it will look at oral histories and records from Coventry’s manufacturing and engineering history and how Coventry’s ‘Work Place’ has formed the place we live.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF West Midlands, said: “This is fantastic news for Coventry, a city currently reinventing itself through culture and regeneration.”
Laura McMillan, Coventry City of Culture Trust manager, said: “Great Places is a massive vote of confidence in the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the 75 businesses who are backing us.
“It will take time to develop the programme but from 2018 we will see some exceptional events and projects engaging all ages in the city’s heritage, architecture and cultural life. This award will also help build capacity and showcase the creativity of our independent cultural sector.”