New generation of cultural leaders chosen for City of Culture programme

A new programme aims to strengthen and diversify the next generation of leadership for Coventry’s creative sector.

Pictured: Laura Nyahuye.

A new generation of cultural and artistic leaders have been chosen to take part in a major leadership programme as part of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture. 

The Coventry City of Culture Trust has selected 15 up-and-coming leaders from nearly 100 applications for the City of Culture Leadership Programme that will run across the next two years.

The aim of the programme is to strengthen and diversify the next generation of leadership for Coventry’s creative sector, to reflect the diversity and cultural strengths of the city. 

The successful applicants include filmmakers, entrepreneurs, artists, DJs and writers, as well as dancers, event organisers, community group leaders and clothing company creators, who will all receive support and funding to continue their work within Coventry’s creative community. 

The Trust and its partners are co-creating a two-year leadership programme wrapped around the cohort, enabling them to realise their ambitions for the city.

As well as receiving mentoring and access to training, the programme will provide the leaders with a digital space which will facilitate them to continue networking and sharing ideas and updates.

The applicants who did not make it onto the programme have also received support from the Trust, with microgrants funding their cultural and artistic business ideas, to support their professional and personal development. 

One of the successful applicants, Alfie Deas, runs a contemporary clothing brand Only Girl Worth Chasing, with designs inspired by his hometown.

He said: “I am excited and very grateful to be a part of the City of Culture Leadership Programme. I feel it will give us a platform to showcase the creative talent within Coventry.

“I believe that Coventry should be the destination and not the departure point for current and future creatives.”

Coventry resident and artist Laura Nyahuye, another successful applicant, designs unique handcrafted wearable body adornments.

She added: “My prayer is, we will all look back 10 years down the line and say I see legacy from the City of Culture, real diversity in our art sector and more leadership roles for people of colour!”

Melissa Smith, a successful applicant who is helping to produce the Creative Health community-powered festival in the city said: “I am a huge advocate for the arts and creativity so being chosen to be part of the leadership programme is truly an honour.”

Tyler Campbell, a 19-year-old Coventrian who last year responded to the spate of knife crime in the city by founding a young person’s youth club and entertainment space, is another of the successful applicants.

He said: “I am really excited to be part of this project. I am eager to learn as many leadership skills as I can so I can encourage and help other young people to fulfil their potential in the future.”

Coventry based writer and creator, Alexandra Johnson, who also made it onto the programme, said: “What an amazing opportunity this is, I’m thrilled to have been selected as one of the 15 and looking forward to making a difference to our fantastic city for 2021 and beyond.”

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust explained that confident leadership acrossCoventry is essential for us to realise our vision to reimagine the role of culture in a diverse, modern Britain.

“More than ever before the city and region need its ambitious, socially engaged leaders and we are delighted to be supporting this cohort of Coventrians through the leadership programme,” he said.