THE NEWLY appointed creative director for UK City of Culture has promised to deliver “an unforgettable year” for Coventry.
Chenine Bhathena, who was the creative programmer for the London Olympics in 2012, has landed the role with the Coventry City of Culture Trust after a competitive three-month recruitment process.
Coventry acquired its City of Culture status in December and, since then, has been recruiting for a range of roles to plan ahead.
Each post will be responsible for delivering the 12-month programme which could stimulate £350million of direct economic investment, says the trust.
And Chenine, who joins from the Greater London Authority, believes its new status means Coventry can highlight and develop its role as a global leader.
She said: “This is such an exciting role and I am really looking forward to working with the team and the whole city to create something extraordinary in 2021.
“I’ve been producing and commissioning work with a range of artists for 25 years.
“I’ve recently spearheaded the Mayor of London’s new London Borough of Culture competition, as well as leading the Mayor’s programme for the London 2012 Festival, where I delivered the biggest outdoor festival ever seen in the capital, delivering brilliant events across the 32 London boroughs and the City of London.
“We took arts and culture onto the doorsteps of communities across the city – from large scale spectaculars, to artists on the streets, opera on canals, ballet in lidos and sound and fire installations in country parks.
“I can see great synergies between Coventry’s ambitions for 2021 and with what I have been doing with culture and communities during my career.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city and everyone has seen the positive effect it has had on Hull – but Coventry will tell its own story and will put its own stamp on City of Culture.
“It’s a diverse and youthful city and is a global leader in peace and reconciliation. This is an opportunity for Coventry to continue to take a lead on some of the major issues facing the world today and be a trailblazer.
“I can’t wait to move to the city and get started in the role. Everyone has been so friendly and so welcoming and I’m hugely inspired by its story, its medieval, industrial and musical heritage as well as its ambitions for the future as a city of culture and creativity. A city of dreams.
“The year of 2021 will be a chance to tell some great stories about Coventry and position the city differently.
“The Trust developed a brilliant, winning bid and I look forward to leading these extraordinary programmes.
“I am inspired by the landscape of the city centre. From the ring road, public squares and rooftops through to canals, parks and stadiums – the city will be our stage and we will create a programme that not only takes culture to the people of the city but will be designed and curated by and with local communities.
“It’s a truly special time to be in Coventry and will be an unforgettable year.”
David Burbidge, the chairman of the trust, said more than 40 candidates had applied for the post which will formally start in July.
He said: “Within only a matter of days of winning the title, we embarked on a search for our creative director because the role is central to the delivery of the programme in 2021.
“We were blown away by the quality and quantity of applications and drew up a shortlist of great candidates.
“Chenine’s personality, skills and experience are remarkably aligned to what we want to deliver for the city in the lead up to 2021, the year itself and the legacy so we are delighted to have her on board.”
Chenine will work alongside the existing team which includes Laura McMillan, who is now director of operations and legacy at the trust.
Coventry City Council leader Coun George Duggins said: “This is a fantastic appointment for Coventry.
“The team, led by Laura and David, did a great job in winning the title. Now Chenine and the team have the opportunity to build on those foundations and create something truly memorable for Coventry, to encourage the largest possible participation of people of our city and provide a lasting positive effect on every community in our great city.”