Coventry City Council is set to accept a grant from Arts Council England, which will be used to invest in the city ahead of 2021.
The £8.51m grant, which was originally outlined in the Government’s 2018 Autumn Budget, will be used to boost Coventry’s arts and culture scene and will help fund significant improvements to some of the city’s major venues and production facilities.
This investment from HM Government, which is managed by Arts Council England, brings the total grant funding to transform the city centre and create a legacy for local people ahead of Coventry being UK City of Culture to £55 million.
The Arts Council grant will support a number of exciting projects including the work to refurbish the auditorium at the Belgrade Theatre, work to improve the visitor experience at Coventry Cathedral and plans for St Mary’s Guildhall, Draper’s Hall and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.
Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “As I said when this funding was announced last year, this is truly fantastic news for our city.
“It will help to ensure that some of our most loved buildings benefit from a cash boost which will enable them to thrive for many years to come.
“By establishing creative centres, we will ensure that we provide opportunities to the fantastic up-and-coming talent we have within our city. And provide a legacy that will last long after our year in the spotlight.
“Our reign as the UK City of Culture has always been about more than those 12 months, it’s about investing in our future and creating a meaningful legacy for our communities.
“These are really exciting times for Coventry and I’m very excited about all that is planned.”
This work forms part of the City Readiness Programme, which aims to prepare Coventry for its year as the UK City of Culture in 2021 and to ensure that its impact is felt by future generations.
Cllr Duggins continued: “The CWLEP was the first to step in and offer a grant for our year as City of Culture and we have gone on to secure millions more to ensure we maximise all of the opportunities on offer.”
Rebecca Pow, Arts Minister, said: “We have seen the truly transformative effect that City of Culture had on Hull in 2017 and Coventry has already embraced this prestigious title. The city is demonstrating how the arts and heritage can bring people and communities together and this government funding will allow the city to invest in an exciting and inclusive programme for 2021."
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “This marks a significant milestone in the run up to Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture in 2021. It will be exciting to see this investment transform the city centre and many of its major venues and facilities. In the longer term it will also help bring Coventry’s communities together as they celebrate their city and will secure Coventry’s place on an international platform.”
Jonathan Browning, chair of the CWLEP, said: “It is less than 18 months until Coventry is UK City of Culture and its vital preparations continue to ensure the city is ready to welcome visitors from across the UK and the globe which this grant will help to achieve.
“Culture and tourism is one of the CWLEP’s strategic priorities since 40,000 people are employed in the industry in Coventry and Warwickshire and it is growing more than twice as fast as the national average.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the area on a world-wide stage to attract visitors not only during UK City of Culture but to make return visits since our area has so much to offer.”
The plans will go to Cabinet on August 27 and then to Council on September 3 for approval.