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Coventry named UK City of Culture 2021

The city beat off competition from Paisley, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea to win the title

Coventry has been named the UK City of Culture 2021.

The city beat off competition from Paisley, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea to win the title. The decision was made after an independent panel of culture experts, chaired by television producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, visited each of the five candidate cities before recommending Coventry as the winner.

Tourism minister John Glen said: “The title is an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage.

“In 2017 I have seen the truly transformative effect this prestigious title has had on Hull. The city has embraced City of Culture and in doing so has demonstrated how culture, the arts and heritage can bring communities together. I look forward to seeing what Coventry has in store in 2021.”

Nick Eastwood, chief executive of Wasps and the Ricoh Arena, said: “We are proud to have supported Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture from very early on and we are absolutely thrilled that the city has won this massive and prestigious title.

“We will do everything we possibly can from now until 2021 to help prepare for what should be a historic 12 months in the city’s history.”

Anita Bhalla OBE, board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said: “We congratulate Coventry on winning the prestigious UK City of Culture 2021 competition following an outstanding bid, which has engaged with – and captured the hearts of – the community both within Coventry and beyond.
“Coventry has the full support of GBSLEP in delivering this exciting programme of cultural celebrations, as it will bring significant economic and cultural benefits, not just for Coventry, but also the wider region. With a strong tradition of creativity and innovation, coupled with significant regeneration plans, Coventry is perfectly placed to put on a fantastic cultural show for the wave of additional visitors that this accolade will attract.” 

Coventry now has three years to prepare its year-long programme of activity for 2021. As part of its status as UK City of Culture 2021, Coventry will be eligible for a £3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The programme will include a Streets of Culture programme co-producing work in local communities. The first build-up event will be the UK’s first Shop Front Theatre Festival in March 2018 and the city will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its cathedral with a major new lighting commission.

A 2.2 mile Ring Road poem is set to one of the digital centrepiece of 2021 along with major productions by the RSC and the screening of the entire works of Shakespeare in famous locations.

There have been two previous UK Cities of Culture: Derry-Londonderry in 2013 and Hull in 2017. It is estimated that Hull’s local economy has received a £60m boost in 2017 and the city has been praised for how it has engaged local residents in the cultural programme. Since it was awarded the title in 2013 Hull has received more than £3bn of investment and nine out of 10 residents have attended, or taken part, in a City of Culture event.

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