The UK might have lost the right to be named European Capital of Culture, but yesterday (7 December) it was announced that Coventry will continue the tradition of UK City of Culture when it is passed the baton in 2021.
Modelled on the European Capital of Culture concept, the UK title is awarded once every four years. Coventry hopes to emulate the success of previous recipients, Londonderry (2013) and Hull (2017). It will be awarded a £3 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant to host a year of cultural celebration spanning venues including the Warwick Arts Centre, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and the Belgrade Theatre.
Coventry is also expected to receive government funding to help boost access to the arts. According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Hull received £15 million from the UK government.
Birthplace of electronic musician Delia Derbyshire, thriller author Lee Child, the Specials and poet Philip Larkin, Coventry suffered following the decline of the British motor industry and was bombed heavily during World War Two. Arts Minister, John Glen said the city’s year of culture would be “an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage“.
Hull’s local economy has been boosted by an estimated £60 million from its turn as the UK City of Culture and has generated over £1 billion of investment. Glen said Hull had “demonstrated how culture, the arts and heritage can bring communities together” and had experienced a “truly transformative effect” from the title.
Coventry fought off contenders Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland to be named City of Culture. Approximately 80% of the city’s residents backed its 2021 bid and around 150 businesses offered financial support.
The city has not always enjoyed a reputation for cultural excellence. The British idiom to ‘send someone to Coventry’ is said to mean to ostracise someone or act as if they are not present. Following yesterday’s announcement, the ‘Coventry2021’ Twitter account tweeted that ‘From now on, everyone around the world is going to want to be Sent to Coventry’.