#ThisIsCoventry – City of Culture 2021
So as you may have heard, Coventry was recently announced as the new City of Culture in 2021! Taking over from Kingston-Upon-Hull (the 2017 winner), the award is given every four years to a new city in the UK. Competing against Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland, opportunities will be given to Coventry as part of the accolade.
But why does this matter to Warwick students?
Aside from the obvious, of the University being situated in Coventry itself, students don’t necessarily realise the history and culture that Coventry has, and what the award will bring over the next few years. Two major parts of Coventry’s culture are below, as a lot of students that come to the university may not realise just how big a part this has been in the city’s life.
Coventry’s history is long, but "turbulent", as described by the BBC guide to the City of Culture 2021. Arguably one of the most famous parts, and one of the biggest landmarks, is the old cathedral – the remains of which are still standing after World War 2 bombings. The new cathedral stands next to it, serving a stark reminder of the destruction, but the reconciliation that came from the disaster.
This is not the only other part of history in Coventry, with other well-known people including Lady Godiva, William Shakespeare, and Mary, Queen of Scots, having had major events in their lives take place here. The city is also known for its rich history in the British motor industry, and more specifically the birthplace of it. The timeline of this is traceable in the exhibitions in the Transport Museum – a great day out and also a fascinating way to learn more about just how big an impact one industry has had in a city, and how big an impact Coventry has had nationwide – from Jaguar, to the London Taxi Company and black cabs.
Arts and Music
With Warwick University itself hosting the largest Arts Centre within the Midlands and the largest of it’s kind outside the Barbican, it is a small taste of what Coventry has to offer for the arts. It’s currently undergoing renovations and refurbishments for the 2020 project, but the variety of performances and attraction to not only students but citizens of Coventry and the West Midlands cements part of Warwick into the culture of Coventry. The Belgrade Theatre and Herbert Art Gallery, both located in central Coventry, are also great contributors to this – providing a variety of shows and exhibitions across the year.
While arguably one could say that music is an art, it deserves its own distinction within this category. Links to the music industry are scattered across the 20th and 21st century, including The Specials, the city being the birthplace of several musicians, and the Arts Centre and other performance spaces really coming to light, however one thing that should really be mentioned, especially as a place to visit, is the Godiva Festival, held over a July weekend every year. The UK’s largest free family music event is something that – if possible – Warwick students shouldn’t miss; bringing a range of acts from across the city and country together for 3 days of performances.
There is so much more to Coventry than just the aforementioned parts – but for students, these are really the key areas to know about. Coventry isn’t just a place for shopping or nightlife – it’s so much more and the City of Culture bid has brought some of that to life, with so much more to be discovered and shown for the next 4 years.