The bid is now formally underway after Matt Hancock, Minister of State responsible for digital and culture policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, officially launched the competition in Hull.
The Coventry City of Culture Trust has been working on a bid for more than a year and now knows key dates and the full bid process. David Burbidge, the chair of the Trust, said the support from the city and the region had been incredible so far but now was time to step up a gear.
He said: “We have been doing a huge amount of work in the run up to this announcement. A massive amount of research into the city has been undertaken from a cultural, economic and social point of view so we know exactly what we want City of Culture to achieve for Coventry. Coventry’s population is on average seven years younger than the rest of the country and young people will play a major role in 2021. We are a diverse city too and, already through this process, we have drawn out some wonderful stories of Coventry’s cultures giving them the local, national and international profile they deserve. But the truth is Coventry doesn’t only want to be City of Culture in 2021 – it very much needs this opportunity to help to tackle some of the inequalities that remain and to turn round the city’s visitor economy. It’s clear to me that the whole city is behind the bid – our politicians, our businesses – who are supporting the bid financially, our two great universities, our cultural organisations and, most importantly, the people. When we first announced that we would bid 80% of the population said they were behind it but now we need to galvanise the people of Coventry behind this and to build pride in the place, culture and identity of this diverse modern city”.
Chapelfields resident Julia Negus, of Theatre Absolute which runs the Shopfront Theatre in the city centre, said: “The past 12 to 18 months has been a really positive process for Coventry since it announced it would be bidding to be UK City of Culture. It’s helped the city to acknowledge the many challenges we have and also to start to recognise some of the existing cultural organisations and the great talent we have emerging in Coventry. A successful bid would be transformational for Coventry, particularly for our young people from so many backgrounds and cultures. It would give the city a renewed confidence and, I believe, would have a lasting effect on Coventry and our culture.”
Coventry City Council, The University of Warwick, and Coventry University are Principal Partners of the bid, the Ricoh Arena is Bid Sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover, Friargate, Coventry Building Society, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham Airport, Pertemps and CEF (City Electrical Factors) are all Bid Development Sponsors.