WEST Midlands Police has received an extra £100,000 boost to help police Coventry’s UK City of Culture.
The force has a policing team dedicated to planning City of Culture, working closely with the Trust and partners.
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.”
Officers are not only getting ready to support Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, starting on May 15 and running for 12 months, but will be working alongside artists using arts and culture to tackle major issues affecting the city.
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.”
Exploitation and youth violence are among key issues to be addressed by this summer’s programme of events revealed yesterday (Tuesday March 2) by Coventry UK City of Culture Trust.
An appointed artist-in-residence will spend time with West Midlands Police observing their work with young people.
CVX, a three-day arts activism festival curated by young people in the city with Positive Youth Foundation and the rapper JAY1 in August is set to be one of the first UK music festivals 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.”
A street art festival, In Paint We Trust will feature local, regional and national street artists, with 20 new artworks transforming vertical and horizontal spaces across the city.
The first commission is set to be delivered 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 will be recreated by the street artists 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.”
You can find out more about Coventry City of Culture events here, or sign up to the force’s free messaging channel WMNow where you can receive updates. You can also follow the City of Culture Policing Team on Twitter @CovPolice2021.