Coventry City of Culture announces summer plans

West Midlands Police is getting ready to support an exciting programme of events this summer, following the announcement of new plans today by Coventry UK City of Culture Trust on its preparations for a year of culture.

Starting on 15 May and running for 12 months, the cultural programme will show Coventry as a diverse and modern city, allowing West Midlands Police to make the most of this unique opportunity by using arts and culture to tackle issues which matter to local people to help prevent crime. 

The force is working alongside the City of Culture Trust and partners to create a positive legacy for the city, while continuing to ensure Coventry is a safe place to visit.

While the country continues to face major challenges, the Trust and its partners have announced further plans as the UK moves toward a phased road to recovery.

All events are being planned in a flexible and responsive way, to allow them to be presented throughout 2021-22 in line with the guidelines at the time they take place. 

West Midlands Police have a policing team dedicated to planning City of Culture who are working closely with the Trust and partners to ensure Coventry a safer city for all who live, work and visit. 

Ring Road. Credit Graeme Peacock
Coventry Ring Road / Credit: Graeme Peacock

City of Culture Policing Lead, Chief Inspector Helen Kirkman said: “With so many exciting and innovative events taking place, it was important that our planning team was in place early. We are continually learning what an important role the arts and cultural sector can play in reducing crime, connecting with communities, better understanding the issues that face them, and protecting people.”

Coventry City of Culture Trust reiterated today its commitment to present several major and ambitious undertakings, previously announced last year. One of these is CVX, a three-day arts activism festival curated by young people in the city with Positive Youth Foundation and the rapper JAY1 (Aug 2021). This will be one of the first music festivals presented in the UK under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. 

Catherine Stock, the Community and Engagement Lead for City of Culture, said: “Many of the City of Culture programmes have been designed to specifically tackle community safety priorities, with the Trust addressing this with one of their strands of work focussing on exploitation and youth violence. 

“CVX is a key event for us. We are working closely with the producer for the event to ensure artists are advocates and positive role models for the young people of Coventry; using their position of influence to try to bring about change.

“The festival will also showcase final outputs of ongoing projects, one of which being our ‘Barriers to Bridges’ Artist in Residency. Once appointed, the artist will spend time with the force, to observe and understand our work and engagements with young people. Alongside this they will also run workshops with young people who have experience of the police and the criminal justice system. 

“The artist will creatively investigate experiences, relationships and perceptions between both parties over the course of several weeks, and then create a final performance that will be showcased at CVX that will also explore the role arts and culture might have in breaking down barriers between police and young people and building bridges in order to reduce youth violence in the city.”

Following the citywide opening, the programme will kick-off with a Summer of Surprises, which includes In Paint We Trust (from May 2021). This is a citywide street art festival, and will feature local, regional and national street artists, with 20 extraordinary new artworks transforming vertical and horizontal spaces across the city. Delivered in partnership with Coventry Business Improvement District and led by Coventry organisation Street Art Strategy.

Throughout the year, In Paint We Trust will brighten the streets and neighbourhoods of Coventry with work from multi-disciplinary artists based in the region and across the country.

Cov Cathedral
Coventry Cathedral

The first commission is being delivered in partnership with St Michaels Neighbourhood Team in Hillfields. Funded by the Home Office’s Safer Streets initiative, local PCSO Adam Bettison recently ran a competition with primary schools in the area to design artwork that was based on tackling the topics of bullying, internet safety, road safety and knife crime. The winning artwork is being recreated by the street art specialists in collaboration with the Watch Centre in Hillfields.

Coventry’s City Centre Inspector Simon Finney said: “We hope this will be the start of many future collaborations and that we can continue to work with local residents to support public artwork that reflects communities as a whole and through these collaborations tackle community safety issues that matter to the residents of Coventry.”

West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Waheed Saleem said: "The Coventry City of Culture is a truly remarkable and exciting project and one that makes me immensely proud. It will offer the people of Coventry, and beyond, new experiences and opportunities. 

“We will harness the energy created by the event to inspire change, build positive role models and raise aspiration for the city’s young people. I’m confident the benefits will be reaped years into the future.

“It will of course be a big operation for West Midlands Police. That’s why I’m investing an extra £100,000 in the event to ensure the safety and security of local people and visitors alike.” 

You can find out more about Coventry City of Culture events here, or sign up to our free messaging channel WMNow where you can receive updates. You can also follow the City of Culture Policing Team on Twitter @CovPolice2021.

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