Coventry is UK City of Culture 2021. Mark Reynolds, owner of ProfitReach, a digital marketing agency serving Coventry, offers his insights as a supporter of Coventry 2021…
Article by: Mark Reynolds, a digital marketing specialist and the founder/owner of ProfitReach. He’s a trusted speaker, delivering SEO/Google Analytics workshops for Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and other organisations. Mark helps UK companies get a steady stream of high-quality sales-ready web enquiries. Today he’s here to help you. Need Mark’s help? Get in touch here.
“We weren’t sent to Coventry; we chose to come.”
The announcement of Coventry as UK City of Culture 2021 certainly put a buzz across the whole city and the surrounding Warwickshire towns like Leamington Spa, Rugby and Nuneaton.
I remember watching this and the live announcement on the One Show on BBC1. Here’s another chance to watch the BBC news report from that memorable night.
Watch BBC News Report on Coventry Winning Bid for UK City of Culture 2021
“Coventry is the third ‘UK City of Culture’, following in the footsteps of Hull, 2017 and Derry~Londonderry in 2013.”
“This is a win for Coventry, 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.Laura McMillan, manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, speaking to the Coventry Telegraph.
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.
How Do I Get Involved in ‘Coventry 2021’ as a Supplier/Small Business?
When the time is right, Coventry 2021 will be tendering for the majority of their contracts. Where possible, they are hoping to continue to work with local businesses and organisations.
Who Supported the Coventry 2021 Bid?
- Coventry City Council
- Coventry University
- University of Warwick
- West Midlands Combined Authority
Bid Development Sponsors
Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Jaguar Land Rover
Coventry Building Society
PET XI Training
Watch ‘Our Cov’ – Coventry’s UK City of Culture OFFICIAL bid film for 2021
What will the Impact of “UK City of Culture” be for Coventry?
What are the plans for a legacy?
Coventry City of Culture Trust will continue post-2021 with a team of core staff. Coventry City Council has already confirmed their funding for legacy and other conversations are in progress. The future of the Trust will be aligned with the city’s 10- year Cultural Strategy.
Let’s take a look back at Hull, the most recent UK City of Culture before Coventry to see what kind of impact it had there…
Hull UK City of Culture 2017 sounds like a huge success, but what is the real impact and legacy?
The report into the impact of UK City of Culture 2017 from University of Hull’s Culture, Place & Policy Institute, takes us back to the initial goals and aims of the project.
- raising aspirations and skills through increased participation and learning;
- growing the size and strength of the cultural and visitor economy;
- placing cultural regeneration at the heart of the city’s future;
- transforming attitudes and perceptions of the city locally, nationally and internationally.
They also had nine individual project aims across five impact areas.
Impact Area: Arts & Culture
The project had the following three main aims in this impact area:
- Aim 1: ► To produce a high quality programme of arts, culture and heritage, helping to position the UK City of Culture as the quadrennial UK cultural festival
- Aim 2: ► To develop (new and existing) audiences for the city and East Yorkshire’s cultural offer locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
- Aim 3: ► To develop the capacity and capabilities of the cultural sector
Impact Area: Place Making
The project had the following aim in this impact area:
- Aim 4: ► To improve perceptions of the city as a place to live, work, study and visit
Impact Area: Economy
The project had the following two main aims in this impact area:
- Aim 5: ► To strengthen the city’s and East Yorkshire’s economy, particularly the cultural and visitor economy sectors
- Aim 6: ► To increase public and private investment and regeneration in the city (both cultural and other investment)
Impact Area: Society & Wellbeing
The project had the following two main aims in this impact area:
- Aim 7: ► To improve wellbeing of residents through engagement and participation
- Aim 8: ► To raise the aspirations, abilities and knowledge of residents through increased participation and learning
Impact Area: Partnerships & Development
The project had the following aim in this impact area:
- Aim 9: ► To demonstrate exemplary programme delivery and partnerships, establishing ‘UK City of Culture 2017’ as a blueprint for successful delivery.
Of course legacy and the outcomes can’t be judged in a short space of time after 2017. The real outcomes will be judged years and years into the future, but we can get an initial idea.
What Impact Was Actually Made after 2017?
In September 2017, Hull 2017 Ltd and Hull City Council announced an ambitious legacy plan to build on the outcomes of the UK City of Culture year.Source: Culture, Place & Policy Institute, University of Hull
The City Council pledged an ongoing commitment to invest in culture, building on major funding announcements from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the city’s maritime offer, as well as the imminent completion of a new 3,500-capacity music and events space, Hull Venue.
It was also confirmed that Culture Company, the independent organisation that oversaw the delivery of the UK City of Culture 2017 programme, was to continue as a permanent arts organisation, operating in the city and beyond.
Aligned to the city’s Cultural Strategy (2016-26), the legacy plans attempt to provide a roadmap for the next 3, 10 and 20 years of cultural development in the city.
Working with many partners, this includes the aim to ensure that culture, participation and learning as are embedded into the lives of young people growing up in the city.
Snapshots of the preliminary findings of UK City of Culture 2017:
- £32.8m was raised for the cultural programme, more than double the original fundraising target, from more than 80 local and national funding partners.
- The success of the year was only possible as a result of a series of strategic partnerships, ranging from the City Council as host city partner to other public sector agencies, to national arts institutions, the media, health providers and Government.
- The 2017 UK City of Culture year attracted a total audience of 5.3 million attending over 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions.
- Over half of the audiences were from the city with nearly all residents (over 95%) attending at least one cultural activity during the year. The evaluation evidenced a new confidence in local people, with significant increases (+9%) in residents’ willingness to take part in a range of cultural and non-cultural activities, including volunteering and sport.
- 3 in 4 residents reported being proud to live in the city with Hull achieving significant national profile, securing over 20,200 pieces of media exposure across print, online and broadcast media outlets.
- Many audiences were new to the city’s cultural offer, with over 60% of ticket-buying audiences being first time bookers. Record audience figures, exceeding 1.4 million, were seen by the city’s galleries and museums and major theatres, halls and performance venues across the city experienced an increase in ticket sales of more than 30%.
- 75% of those who visited the city in 2017 stated that it changed their perception of the city for the better.
- 1 in 4 businesses surveyed in the area took on new staff in 2017 and 1 in 5 businesses extended their opening hours. Over half of businesses surveyed felt that 2017 had contributed to increased turnover.
- 18% of residents said that ‘UK City of Culture 2017’ inspired them to attend a course or study something they saw during the year.
What were the Initial Conclusions of UK City of Culture 2017?
The programme has demonstrated the significant economic and social impacts that a year-long co-ordinated programme of arts, culture and heritage activity can have on a city.
These impacts have ranged from creating employment, increasing business turnover and attracting inward investment, to enhancing confidence and raising aspirations.
The final evaluation report is due to be published in November 2019 and will provide further evidence across the five impact areas as well as process learnings relating to the delivery of the project.
Now, onto Coventry 2021…
2021 promises to be an outstanding year for Coventry. 2017 proved for Hull that UK City of Culture can bring significant benefits.
So what are the goals of Coventry 2021?
What are Coventry’s Goals and Ambitions for UK City of Culture 2021?
Expect the unexpected!
Winning City of Culture 2021 will transform Coventry forever. The young people that are in Coventry schools right now will grow up in a city with more job prospects, a thriving programme of events to enjoy, more places to eat, shop and visit with a bustling city centre. It’s a lot more than a year of cultural celebration, it’s about changing the reputation of a city.
The judges unanimously agreed that awarding Coventry the title would have the biggest impact on the rest of the UK. We are a young, diverse, modern city which is re-imaging the role culture can play in bringing people together.Source: Coventry 2021
Coventry has a history of triumphing against adversity, of coming together with a fierce but quiet pride. We love our city and all too often have listened to others putting it down but now is the time to invite the world to venture past our beloved ring road and into a city with a story to tell and experiences to share.Source: Coventry 2021
We weren’t sent to Coventry; we chose to come. Coventry is a city of welcome, a city of peace and reconciliation, a city of innovation and invention, a City of Culture.Source: Coventry 2021
What are Step Changes?
The UK City of Culture title will bring real change in the city.
To measure this and to demonstrate the impact to the judges we created a set of step changes that we believe the city can meet in the coming years. We are all responsible for helping to achieve these city-wide step changes. Over the next few months we will be sharing ways to get involved, and to help us make the most of this amazing opportunity.
Step Change 1: Culture Driving the Economy
We will use the year to deliver an increase in tourism and visitor spend based on our baseline research, transform the model for private sector engagement and promote growth in new creative businesses.
Step Change 2: Culture Closing the Gaps in Participation and Engagement
We will close the gaps in access to high quality arts and culture in our city by reaching into areas with lowest levels of opportunity.
Step Change 3: Culture Building Bridges: Diversity and Equality
We will unleash the cultural and creative potential in our communities and ensure that there is diversity amongst our cultural leaders, producers and
This is diversity in the broadest sense including age, gender, ethnicity, accessibility and sexuality. We will make the arts accessible to isolated
communities and ensure that access is not limited by cost or insensitive programming.
Step Change 4: Coventry’s Key Targets: Culture Underpinning the Health of the City
We will get the city moving. We are committed to reducing inactivity and promoting health and wellbeing.
Step Change 5: Culture Takes Pride of Place: Recognition and Legacy
We will create the foundations for cultural, social and economic prosperity. 2021 will put a city that is reinventing itself through culture, innovative delivery and creative diversity on to the national and international map, and bring investment and interest into the city and the region.
What Happens Next?
We won’t know the impact of Coventry 2021 until well into the future. But whatever happens, 2021 is sure to be a jaw-dropping year for the people of Coventry.
We’ll update this article in the years that follow Coventry 2021 to look at the impact and legacy of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.
Article by: Mark Reynolds, the founder and owner of ProfitReach. Mark first applied SEO to a small business website in 2002. In every role since, he has used SEO to grow web enquiries for small businesses. He’s a trusted speaker, delivering SEO/Google Analytics workshops for Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and other organisations. Today he’s here to help you. Need Mark’s help? Get in touch.