365 days until Coventry 2021 – what we can expect this year

Coventry is moving into its final 12 months of preparations for one of the biggest years in the city’s history.

Since 2017, the Coventry City of Culture Trust has been working with partners to get ready for the year in the national and international spotlight and is now moving into the final phases of preparation throughout 2020.

Aside from helping put Coventry “back on the map”, 2021 will bring more tourism to the city, help boost the local economy and see the council prioritise vital infrastructure improvements in time for the year, such as the railway station redevelopment and city centre improvements.

Over the past year, the Trust has grown to a team of 40 – including producers based in the community who have met with over 200 organisations to co-create events as well as working with major local, national and international arts organisations to devise an programme intended to welcome more than 2.5 million extra visitors to the city in 2021.

Further members of the team will come on board in 2020 while the Trust will also launch its apprenticeship and volunteering programmes in the spring.

In the last year, almost 50,000 people have attended or participated in events planned or presented by the Trust and the build-up programme will peak this summer with a major ‘Getting Ready for 2021’ event to showcase the scale of the events being planned for 2021. 

This will give a taste of the events that are currently being developed with local, national and international artists which will all be revealed in the autumn.

By then, a new website, City of Culture brand and a state-of-the-art citywide box office system will have been launched to make exploring the programme and booking tickets easy for both locals and visitors.

So far, the Trust has raised almost £30 million to deliver 2021 and continues to work with Trusts and Foundations, sponsors and individual donors to add to that next year.

It has also awarded £250,000 to 38 grassroots organisations and projects in the city through the Heart of England Community Foundation and will continue to award grants to groups from across the city in 2020. 

Also in 2020, as part of the Trust’s work with the British Council, the International Changemakers scheme will see more than 20 artists from across the city travel to locations around the world to build new relationships and develop project ideas for 2021. 

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said, “This past year has been an exciting and busy time and I am hugely grateful to the City of Culture Trust team and all our partners and supporters for what they have achieved, so far. We are in a good place, being slightly ahead of our planning and fundraising targets, but we are not complacent.

“We continue to build a very strong team, working with partners including Coventry City Council, to get the city ready and to finalise details of the events programme for 2021.

“This next 12 months will really see excitement begin to build as more of our plans are revealed, we launch our new brand and website, continue to work with the business community across the city and region, begin to recruit thousands of volunteers – who will be so key to the success of 2021 – and host a major event in summer, before revealing our extraordinary programme in the autumn.”