Coventry named UK City of Culture 2021


Coventry will be the next UK City of Culture in 2021.

The announcement, made by Arts Minister John Glen in Hull, comes as the current UK City of Culture’s year-long celebration nears an end.

The competition is held every four years, with Derry-Londonderry the first winner in 2013.

With a population of 352,000, Coventry is famous for manufacturing, something it based its successful bid on, along with its diversity and the regeneration which has gone on in the city since it was bombed during World War II.

London’s black cabs, Jaguar cars and the jet engine have all started life in the Warwickshire city.

Coventry boasts the Warwick Arts Centre, the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and the Belgrade Theatre, which launched the Theatre In Education movement in 1965, designed to develop theatre as a way of inspiring learning in schools, and was also the UK’s first purpose-built civic theatre.

It is also the home of the UK’s first Shop Front Theatre and the UK’s largest free family music festival, the Coventry Godiva Festival, takes place in the city.

The Midlands city also has two universities: Coventry University and the University of Warwick on its southern outskirts.

Poet Philip Larkin was born and raised in Coventry, playwright Alan Pollock was brought up in the city, as was Chris O’Connell – founder of the city’s Theatre Absolute.

During the late-1970s and early-1980s, Coventry was the centre of the Two Tone musical phenomenon, with bands such as the Specials and the Selecter coming from the city.

In the film The Italian Job, the scene of Mini Coopers being driven at speed through Turin’s sewers was actually filmed in Coventry, using what were then the country’s biggest sewer pipes, which were accessible as they were being installed.

Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, described the city’s success as “a win for young people and a win for diversity.

“The economic impact will be huge for the city and the West Midlands.

“It’s been a bid by and for the people of Coventry.

“It has brought so many people and organisations together and this is just the start.

“Over the next three years we will ensure that everyone in the city, which has been moving people by cycle, car and jet engine, is now moving people through culture.”

Despite the title, the award is not restricted only to cities, and Scottish representative Paisley is the first town to make the final shortlist.

Coventry, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea were all in the running for the title – which is credited with attracting major investment to former winners – in 2021.

Here we profile the other contenders:


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