The team effort that went into delivering the UK City of Culture 2021 title for Coventry has been praised by the man who led the bid from day one.
David Burbidge CBE DL, the Chairman of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said the victory – announced in December – was testament to the work between public and private sector, the two universities and the city, county and wider region.
David called together representatives from Coventry City Council, Coventry University, the University of Warwick and the West Midlands Combined Authority to personally thank them for the major part they played in securing the prestigious title for the city.
He said: “This is a game-changer for Coventry and wouldn’t have got off the ground if it hadn’t been for the foresight and the bravery of Coventry City Council to decide to go for it in the very early stages.
“The council also took the decision to take the bid out of their own control and to hand it over to team, with me as Chair, which was also quite a bold step.
“It meant Coventry City Council would be there to play a key role but, also, made us unique in the fact that this was a UK City of Culture bid that wasn’t solely run by a local authority.
“The next key step was securing the support of our two great and world class universities, which we did and I think it is fair to say that the City of Culture project has seen the greatest ever form of collaboration between Coventry University and the University of Warwick.
“The expertise and support that the two institutions brought was absolutely invaluable.
“It’s well documented that we attracted outstanding business support – with well over 100 companies backing the bid and that, again, was another element of our case that really impressed the judges.
“The final piece of the jigsaw was to show that this was a truly regional bid and we secured the support of the local borough councils and Warwickshire County Council.
“And the level of backing that we received from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and his team at the West Midlands Combined Authority was incredible, particularly in the latter stages.
“His support, at a time when we all felt that the competition was neck and neck going into the final judging for the title, played a very strong part in our success.
“Never in my time as a business person in Coventry have I seen such a strong team effort from across the region and I have absolutely no doubt that it was key to our victory.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “I know from speaking to Ministers since the City of Culture announcement that one of the things that helped secure the victory was the regional support for the Coventry bid.
“This demonstrates the way the West Midlands Combined Authority can have a positive influence with Government as we seek to win big prizes with Government.
“Championing the region with Government is a key part of the Mayor’s role and I am glad I was able to play my part in securing what we all know to be a deserved victory for the city of Coventry.”
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “As a Council, we made up our mind very early on that we wanted UK City of Culture status and we were totally committed from the very beginning.
“The bid, led by David’s team, was an amazing success and it was inspiring to see so many people and organisations get behind it and share our faith in our city – thank you to everyone who played a part.
“We have worked tirelessly on a wide variety of projects right across the city in recent years and we are now seeing the benefits of that work. We have a growing city and more investment that is bringing in new jobs, changing the face of our city centre and improving the quality of life for all.
“We saw the City of Culture title as a vital part of that work and we are delighted that we now have the opportunity to create not just a year for the whole country to remember, but also a lasting legacy for the people of Coventry.
“But as well as a legacy, it is important that in the run-up to 2021, and the year itself, that it is designed to encourage the largest possible participation of people of our city.”
Coventry City Council, The University of Warwick, Coventry University and West Midlands Combined Authority are Principal Partners of the Coventry City of Culture Trust and have provided significant support. The Ricoh Arena is Bid Sponsor while Jaguar Land Rover, Adient, Friargate, Coventry Building Society, the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham Airport, PET-Xi, SCC, Pertemps, and CEF (City Electrical Factors) are also Bid Development Sponsors.
To find out more, go to @Coventry2021 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.coventry2021.co.uk
Pictured: Stuart Croft (University of Warwick), Laura McMillan (Coventry City of Culture Trust), Andy Street, David Burbidge, Cllr Kevin Maton, Judith Mossman (Coventry University).