A campaign highlighting human rights and how they affect people’s day-to-day lives has recruited 30 Coventry artists to create stories and poems that will feature around the city.
The campaign – #HumansOfCov – was launched by the City of Culture Trust in December, to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Human rights campaigners report primarily negative associations with the term ‘human rights’ in the UK and the Trust wants to change that perception in Coventry.
The declaration enshrined 30 human rights, such as the right to life and liberty, the right to a cultural life and the right to freedom of thought, into international law, and #HumansOfCov called out for 30 writers, poets and spoken-word artists to create a piece of work about each individual right.
They are now finalising their ideas, ready to be presented at the end of this month (April).
Once finished, their work will be revealed around Coventry so everyone in the city will be able to see at least one creation to highlight the importance of human rights.
Janet Vaughan, of the #HumansOfCov Project Team, said the artists’ work was initially going to be shared online, but after a rethink it was decided the work should be shared in a number of different ways.
She said: “It was really hard to whittle the list down to just 30 writers, but we now have a really diverse mix of artists of different ages, styles and experiences from neighbourhoods across Coventry.
“They will be writing pieces to be read aloud and in some cases sung, performed or projected.
“Our aim for the project is that every Coventry resident will come across at least one of the 30 pieces of writing at some point throughout the course of 2019, and for this to start conversations across the city about human rights.
“We want people to become more familiar with the articles to understand what they are and why they exist, who enjoys access to all of them and who doesn’t, and what we should be doing to ensure our human rights are respected and protected and home in our own city, and across the nation.”
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The 70th anniversary year of the UN Declaration of Human Rights is incredibly significant, especially at this very unsettling time in the history of our cities, nations and the world.
“We want to make sure people are aware of their rights and freedoms, and can celebrate, protect and uphold them, whether a right to a cultural life, liberty, happiness or equality.
“We are delighted to have commissioned 30 locally based artists to create 30 individual responses. For a city with such a strong history of community activism, we look forward to how these 30 responses will start conversations and highlight the many pioneering activities being led by our citizens.
“City of Culture is not just a year-long festival in 2021 – we want it to be a movement for change with a strong social conscience, promoting democracy and civic innovation.”
#HumansOfCov has also seen Photo Archive Miners, a Coventry-based, internationally-recognised photographic collective, produce a portfolio of photographic portraits of a diverse mix of people from across the city with short biographies and their outlook on everyday human rights.