Culture at the Heart of England - Coventry City of Culture 2021 and the Midlands

The Midlands, home to over 10 million people, is a major focus for the Government through the Midlands Engine - a coalition of councils, local enterprise partnerships, universities and businesses working with Government to build on innovation, investment and international trade, increase business skills, and continue to make the Midlands a great place to live.

We're two years away from Coventry City of Culture 2021 which is destined to bring plenty of tourism and highlight arts and creativity in the region. The City of Culture is being built on themes of ‘being human’, ‘moving’, ‘underground’ and ‘reinvention’. It’s 2021 vision is to close the gaps between participation and engagement in culture, build bridges with culture and make sure it takes pride of place. Culture will also underpin the health of the city. Just some of the proposed targets include increasing cultural commissions to help address mental health, for the majority of the city’s population to experience at least three cultural events and to include black, asian & minority ethnic (BAME), young and disabled people on the boards of publicly-funded cultural institutions. Coventry is looking for the Year of Culture to drive several economic ambitions including:

  • 2,116 new jobs
  • 2.5 million visitors
  • 20% increase in visitor spend
  • 100 new businesses regularly supporting the arts
  • Increased contribution of the creative industries to 5% of total GVA
  • Increased growth in employment in music, performing and visual arts to 1.0x the national average

The Government's budget in October revealed an £8.5 million boost to the city's arts and culture scene, alongside an Arts Council England grant of £5 million. Coventry's programme is being crafted, with plans to refurbish the Belgrade Theatre and Cathedral Quarter, and the City of Culture website highlighting cultural events happening throughout the city and nearby areas.

But if you can't wait for that, the Midlands is already brimming with activity. The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley just celebrated 40 years since its opening and is investing £23 million to expand the site. The Leicester Comedy Festival goes from strength to strength. Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust continues to export its collection to enhance overseas exhibitions. Nottingham Playhouse finished a highly-acclaimed run of The Madness of George III at the end of November 2018, featuring Sherlock and The League of Gentleman's Mark Gatiss and has announced further productions for 2019.

It's only going to get stronger too as we get nearer to Coventry's year in 2021 and the success of Coventry’s bid shines more light on the region. If you're based in the Midlands, upload your arts and culture events and we will continue to feature them on our social media and future newsletters.

'Child Hood' by Collectif Coin, Festival of Imagineers 2018 / Image: Andrew Moore


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