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'It's Coventry people who won it,' UK City of Culture judge Phil Redmond tells us

Editorial Correspondent 8th Dec, 2017 Updated: 8th Dec, 2017

IT’S Coventry’s people that won it, UK City of Culture 2021 head judge Phil Redmond told us.

Pressed by The Observer on what was the clinching factor, Mr Redmond said: “It was probably the people.

“But it’s an intangible thing. It’s like art, you can feel it, taste it and experience it.

“The bid can mean as much as you want it to be.

“It allows people to come together in partnership. But it’s up to you and your aspiration to do it.

“The bid brings investment and allows people to focus.

“The strength of the programme is to force cities to think about who they are, where they are, where they came from and what they already have.”

We pressed him further on whether Coventry’s story and history was a deciding factor.

He said the city’s story was a feature, but added other shortlisted cities had their own fascinating stories to tell.

Coventry’s previous position as capital of the country had interested the judges, he added.

We also asked whether the bid’s ‘deliverability’ was decisive, in terms of the visitor potential and Coventry’s central location.

He added: “There is that, there’s 42million people within two hours.

“At the same time the project’s about step change.

“We’re going to use Culture to raise the bar to see if we can captivate the entire population.”

He said Coventry had demonstrated an ability to deliver for the whole of the country as City of Culture 2021.

Mr Redmond was speaking with the Observer team today at Fargo Village where arts minister John Glen was also present.

There was a party atmosphere as bands and Coventrians mingled with the bid’s leaders including Laura McMillan and David Burbidge, who had returned in the middle of the night from Hull.

To cheers, Mr Glen told the crowd: “I think it brings a real sense of pride to the city.

“What’s been exciting in the Coventry bid is it’s a young and diverse city that wants to demonstrate to its people, to the region and the rest of the country that it has a special arts, culture and heritage.

“It’s a time of experimentation, embracing diversity and welcoming people.”

Private discussions took place, before the minister, Mr Redmond and the bid’s leading figures met the Dean of Coventry John Witcombe at the cathedral this afternoon.

 

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