Coventrians praise City of Culture start date change

The city has spoken in an almost uniform voice, with an overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement last week that the City of Culture 2021 schedule of events would be pushed back by six months, to May 2021.

The change comes in obvious response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing a fuller programme of public events that would otherwise not be possible had it begun at the start of the year.

Many were quick to support the Coventry City of Culture Trust’s decision.

Business leaders, especially, have praised the decision – amongst them, Steve Hughes, chief executive of the Coventry Building Society, expressed his wholehearted support.

“This is both a huge investment in Coventry and a huge opportunity for our city,” he said.

“I fully support starting in May as it gives us the chance to come together and properly celebrate the ambition, innovation and diversity of this great city – a city we’ve been proud to be part of for 136 years and will continue to support in its exciting future.”

Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, noted how the delayed start is a “wise decision as it is vital that a full programme of events can be accessed by as many people as possible.”

“Coventry’s year as the UK City of Culture will provide a significant boost to the city’s economic and social recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and will hopefully mark a turning point for the city, the region and the UK,” he said.

Summing up the views of the city’s business community as a whole, Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Starting in May allows the team, the city and the region to make up for some of the lost time due to the coronavirus crisis to ensure it has the biggest impact socially, culturally and economically.

“Culture, leisure, tourism and hospitality have been some of the hardest-hit sectors within our economy, so Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, immediately followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022, will be a much-needed boost for the region.”