First City of Culture 2021 events revealed

With around six months to go, the UK City of Culture 2021 team has unveiled some of its first major events.

Coventry City of Culture Trust has announced the first major events that will kick off its 365-day programme.

UK City of Culture 2021 will kick off on 15 May, 2021 with Coventry Moves – a powerful performance creating a powerful and diverse vision of our future.

The event will see the city transformed and delivered across multiple formats including city-wide participation, installation, performance, movement and digital and broadcast channels. 

The project will be delivered by renowned producer Nigel Jamieson and Justine Themen from the Belgrade Theatre, along with the help of six young creative who will play a central role in the event.

Then from June, Tides Within Us will take visitors on an immersive journey through London Road Cemetery and Charterhouse Fields, combing audio storytelling and awe-inspiring digital installations.

Also launching in June, The Walk is one of the most innovative and adventurous public artworks ever attempted, centred on the 5,000-mile journey of a 3.5 metre-tall puppet of a young refugee girl.

The same month, the UK Asian Film Festival will be presented as the Belgrade Theatre, celebrating the centenary of the acclaimed filmmaker Satyajit Ray with a selection of premieres.

In July, Small Bells Ring will see acclaimed artist collective Studio Morison create a canal boat, filled with the largest collection of short stories in the UK, that will travel the 5.5 miles of Coventry Canals.

Terry Hall, from The Specials, will present Home Sessions, a three-day event in the heart of the city with intimate gigs that blend international legends with contemporary musical pioneers.

Hall’s line-up will feature multiple genres, from musicians to DJs, including Hall’s former collaborators and influencers, emerging new musicians from Coventry and performances by Hall himself. 

In August, Coventry-based company Highly Sprung will highlight the environmental crisis with a performance by an all-female cast, combining movement, gesture and dance on a stage of floating plastic.

Rapper Jay1 will lead a three-day arts activism event in August, CVX Festival, bringing together local, regional and national artists using their platform as role models to stand up for young people and take a stand against violence.

From September, The Turner Prize 2021 will take place at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, with both a ceremony and exhibition lasting until January 2022.

In September, The Royal Shakespeare Company plans to present a new co-commission called Faith – a theatrical production that can be enjoyed by audiences while social distancing.

The Coventry Biennial will return for its third year in October 2021, with four-months of events dedicating to visual arts and culture taking place across Coventry and Warwickshire.

In November, Corey Campbell from the Belgrade Theatre will work with six emerging local writers to produce a six-part digital television series. Inspired by a true story, the urban drama celebrates the aspiration of a black, working-class family.

All the events announced are the first sight of the ways in which Coventry 2021 is radically rethinking what a City of Culture, and its legacy, means and are a preview of some of the early plans for City of Culture ahead of a full programme announcement in January 2021.  

The events are being planned in a flexible and responsive way, to allow them to be presented next year in line with the coronavirus guidelines at the time.

The programme aims to reflect Coventry as a diverse and modern city, moving forward and embracing culture, to connect communities and change lives.

Secretary for Culture, Oliver Dowden, praised City of Culture 2021 as a “wonderful opportunity for Coventry to showcase and champion its arts and culture”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture, expressed her hope that the announcements “give something for people to look forward to – things they can do and enjoy, whatever the future may hold.”

To find out more, visit Coventry 2021’s website.