Coventry City of Culture delayed until May 2021

Details of the first major Coventry 2021 event have also been announced – a mass city-wide celebration, presented across hundreds of structures in the city.

Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture will now start in May 2021, beginning 12 months of events that celebrate the city and its people.

Coventry City of Culture Trust announced the shift to May due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing a fuller programme of public events that would otherwise not be possible had it begun at the turn of the year.

The unanimous decision to move the start date to May was taken by the Trust and its cultural, civic and business and funding partners, including Coventry City Council.

The new start date will enable the year to achieve its artistic, social and economic potential, and enable the maximum possible number of people to visit and take part. 

Coventry City of Culture Trust also announced the first details of its major, signature event that will form a key part of the city’s year-long party.

The currently unnamed major new event will be directed by world-renowned theatre and event director Nigel Jamieson and Belgrade Theatre 2021 co-artistic director Justine Themen, who played a major role in Coventry landing the UK City of Culture title.

The event, described as a mass city-wide celebration, will be co-created alongside thousands of residents of all ages from across the city whose talent will weave throughout the epic event presented across hundreds of structures built by residents across the city.

The wider Coventry 2021/22 programme is being created with local artists and national partners, and will include major international artistic events, world premieres and commissions across theatre, music, dance, literature, comedy and visual art as well as conferences and festivals. 

The 365-day City of Culture programme will reflect Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives, moving the city and region forward.

Further details of the programme will be announced later this year.

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of Coventry 2021, noted his delight that the new dates are now set in stone.

“The current crisis has hit our city, our region and our sector hard. Coventry 2021 will attract visitors to our city – creating an economic boost for the region – and will support artists locally. It will be a wonderful opportunity for the people of Coventry to celebrate and enjoy an incredible year of activity,” he said.

“With support and resources, the cultural community can play a significant role in the reset of the UK and we plan to shine a spotlight on culture’s important role in this recovery.”

Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry 2021, said: “Coventry 2021 has always been about the people of Coventry and their stories. We will reflect and address the issues that matter to all of us.

“At this time of uncertainty, our determination to create connections, memories and commit to making a change is unwavering and we are determined to create an amazing year.”

The UK Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said he has no doubt that Coventry will put on a spectacular show.

“UK City of Culture will see Coventry take its place on the national stage as a go-to destination for arts and culture,” he said.

“Now more than ever it is important that we focus on what unites us and the positive and transformative impact culture can have in local communities.”