Readers have their say on Coventry City of Culture report - The Coventry Observer

Readers have their say on Coventry City of Culture report

Coventry Editorial 7th Nov, 2023 Updated: 8th Nov, 2023   0

A REPORT into Coventry’s year as City of Culture has sparked fierce debate with some claiming the study proves the programme to have been an ‘overall success’ while others claimed the study ‘skewed towards the positive.’

The document by Coventry University and the University of Warwick revealed just under half of Coventrians engaged in events between May 2021 and June 2022 with 77 per cent of activities co-created with people from the city.

It evaluated participation and engagement numbers, social and economic impact and how the programme adapted to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed the start of events by five months.

The report revealed the programme involved every ward and neighbourhood across the city, while target areas of historically low cultural participation saw increases of an average of 36 per cent for regular engagement with publicly funded culture.

This, and the £183.1million investment secured at least in part due to the City of Culture title, led to Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities, Coun David Welsh to claim the year was a success overall.

This comes despite the Coventry City of Culture Trust, the body which planned and executed the programme of events for the year, going into administration in February.

Coun Welsh added: “There were challenges during the year caused by the pandemic including social distancing restrictions when it first started, but the report is clear that the year overall brought some real successes both during the year and afterwards.”

However, the evaluation report noted problems with the year, including marketing, which ‘failed to reach a wide variety’ of Coventrians, and in some cases, the promotional material ‘only landed after the event had been held.’

Prof Jonathan Neelands, Academic Lead for Research and Evaluation for UK City of Culture 2021, from the University of Warwick, said the final evaluation platform was a rich source of evaluation and research providing insights into the impact and challenges of the year.

He added the report provided learning about what worked and what worked less well over the life of the programme.

Community artist Mary Courtney, who has played a prominent role in the Lost City of Culture Facebook page, told the Observer: “The pandemic is blamed for issues, rather than being upfront about poor leadership, poor management and putting on events that often didn’t appeal.”

Alan Denyer, who runs the LTB showrooms community artspace, added: “From my perspective, and talking to the judges during the bid phase, the city of culture set out to increase public interest and engagement in the arts and set in motion more quality delivery organisations.

“I think if anything, on both of these metrics, we’re in a worse situation now than before, it’s so very hard to see the year as any kind of success other than as a vehicle to bring in more place funding.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Was the City of Culture year a success and do you think it engaged with people enough in the city? Email [email protected] with your views or turn to pages 12 and 13 for our letters page.

Visit for the full report.


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