Coventry City of Culture 2021 announces the city’s new Changemakers

As part of the project, Coventry’s creatives will travel to countries around the world to uncover connections, develop ideas and create lasting cultural exchanges.

Pictured: City of Culture’s Changemakers.

Music from Kenya, art from South Africa and traditional dance from Jamaica are some of the subjects that will be explored through 20 projects led by Coventry artists that aim to make international connections and bring a wide range of cultures back to the city. 

Ahead of 2021, Coventry City of Culture Trust has announced the successful applicants for the new International Changemakers Bursary scheme. 

Funded by the British Council, the trust’s international partner, the programme will strengthen and evolve Coventry’s longstanding role as city of collaboration and friendship. 

The artists will develop an understanding of contemporary art in these international places as well as some amazing new international creative collaborations, and the visits will support their professional development.

The 20 successful changemaker projects will receive funding allowing Coventry’s creatives to travel to countries around the world to uncover connections, develop ideas and create lasting cultural exchanges. 

The project has been inspired by the city’s pioneering activism in the twin city movement after World War Two, encouraging internationalism and celebrating Coventry’s role as an international city. 

Two successful applicants, Colin Bell and Cherelle Harding, will be visiting one of Coventry’s twin cities – Kingston in Jamaica – in the hope of connecting the cultures and people by re-establishing a Caribbean carnival in Coventry in 2021.

Another project will see Sherrie Edgar travel to Ukraine to establish a connection with a country affected by war further exploring Coventry’s role as a City of Peace and Reconciliation.

The work will spread as far as Cape Town with Coventry artist Colin Yates creating a series of new work alongside South African artists to be showcased ahead of 2021. 

Armonico Consort will be bringing the sounds of Coventry to Kenya, before returning with songs from the country’s locales to be re-created in an original composition by the company’s composer Toby Young, set to be performed throughout the city by Armonico’s choirs. 

Jon Davis, a senior producer at Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “Each project will see an International Changemaker taking the city’s voice to all corners of the world, showcasing the culture and heritage of the city on a global scale and returning with the spirit of what connects us as people.

“The successful applicants were selected thanks to the breadth and scale of their global ambitions, meaning this project has truly become an international partnership featuring the city’s creative practitioners, artists, activists, professionals and community leaders. 

“These projects will help to not only bring Coventry to the world, but will build lasting partnerships with cities across the globe, using art and culture to create a collective movement of connected changemakers.

“The knowledge that is being passed through this exchange will create a lasting international legacy in the partnerships and projects that are created from their work – we are so excited to see what our International Changemakers discover on their travels.”

Other Changemakers and the countries they will be travelling to include:

  • Lucy Tomlins from Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre will be travelling to India to create a cultural exchange programme with the Kumartuli craftspeople of Kolkata, India. 
  • Bal Dhanjal, Julia Nolan, and two emerging leaders from Coventry’s YMCA are set to visit YMCA New Delhi to explore similarities and variances in approach. 
  • Afiniki Akanet from Forte Charity in Coventry will visit Lagos to develop the charity’s work promoting the language and culture in the city. 
  • Jennifer Verson will travel to Bosnia to build connections with Coventry Synagogue and the refugee experience of the Jewish people.
  • Rosalind Harvey will visit Mexico to create a writing workshop and work inspired by Mexico City and Coventry. 
  • Julia O’Connell will explore Morocco’s textile and dye industry and its impact on the country. 
  • Mollie Davidson will travel to Serbia and Belgrade, one of Coventry’s twin cities. 
  • Artists Mark Worth and Emily Robertson from Highly Sprung Performance Company will visit Rwanda to look at the role of the arts in peace and reconciliation. 
  • Oliver Scott from Mercurial Dance will visit China assessing the country’s approach to health and wellbeing.
  • Caroline Horton will visit Lebanon to connect RSC’s new theatre project ‘Not From Here’ with local artists.
  • Christabell Amoakoh from The Highlife Centre will visit Ghana in May focusing on social enterprise work.
  • Reem Doukmak from Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre will visit Turkey as it received the largest number of Syrian refugees since the war began.
  • Sujana Upadhyay will visit Cuba.
  • Carolyn Deby of sirenscrossing will visit Brazil looking at indigenous culture and climate change.
  • Leon Philips will visit Zambia and the Barefeet Theatre Zambiain Luzaka, an NGO developed by and with former street children.