Business leaders praise City of Culture start date change

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have praised the decision to start Coventry’s years as UK City of Culture in May 2021 to ensure the ‘biggest impact socially, culturally and economically.’

The Coventry City of Culture Trust announced it will be running the year from May 2021 to May 2022 due to the Covid-19 crisis, allowing a fuller programme of public events that would otherwise not be possible had it begun at the start of the year.

It also announced the first details of a major, signature event that will form a key element of the city’s year-long party with a purpose which will bring a series of cultural, social and economic benefits to the city.

Steve Hughes, Chief Executive of Coventry Building Society, a major partner of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, said: “This is both a huge investment in Coventry and a huge opportunity for our city. I fully support starting in May as it gives us the chance to come together and properly celebrate the ambition, innovation and diversity of this great city – a city we’ve been proud to be part of for 136 years and will continue to support in its exciting future.”

Professor John Latham CBE, Coventry University Vice-Chancellor, said: “Coventry's year as the UK City of Culture will provide a significant boost to the city’s economic and social recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and will hopefully mark a turning point for the city, the region and the UK.

“The delayed start is a wise decision as it is vital that a full programme of events can be accessed by as many people as possible.

“We are proud to have supported Coventry 2021 right from the early stages of the bidding process and we have already started a programme of events and projects involving our staff, students and the different communities in our city.”

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Starting in May allows the team, the city and the region to make up for some of the lost time due to the Coronavirus crisis to ensure it has the biggest impact socially, culturally and economically.

“Culture, leisure, tourism and hospitality have been some of the hardest hit sectors within our economy so Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, immediately followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022, will be a much-needed boost for the region.”

Nick Abell, interim chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 is Coventry’s chance to shine on a regional, national and global stage and will give a massive boost to Coventry and Warwickshire on many levels.

“With everything that has happened over the last few months during Covid-19, it will provide the area with a springboard to improve our economy and showcase the incredibly talented people we have working hard to produce projects throughout Coventry’s 12 months as UK City of Culture.”

Craig Wilcockson, group people and strategy director at Orbit said: “I am delighted that despite this time of uncertainty, Coventry UK City of Culture 2021’s impressive programme of events will be going ahead from May next year.

“At Orbit, we are incredibly proud to be sponsoring Coventry UK City of Culture 2021. Coventry is renowned for rebuilding itself and we look forward to seeing the city come back to life!”

Fleur Sexton DL, MD at PET-Xi Training said: “We’ve been involved since the bidding stage when we were delighted to be able to sponsor as bid development partners. This is the most exciting thing that could happen to Coventry and we are thrilled to be a part of it! It’s even more important after the devastating effect of COVID-19 on our cultural and youth sectors. This is a vital part of our reset and recovery as a community and we are committed to it heart and soul.”

Jat Purewal from Whiteley Brooks Engineering said: “We are thrilled that Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 will be taking place in May next year. We have been supporting Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 since the bid process as a 2021 Club Member and have never doubted the positive impact that this event will have on our brilliant city. Moving the start date is a sensible measure to take so that business, visitors, residents and contributors can all make the most of the opportunities that being UK City of Culture brings.”

Nicola Cormell, Centre Manager for the Lower Precinct Shopping Centre said: “We are delighted to hear that that Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 will now go ahead on May 2021 – May 2022. This will be an exciting time to look forward to for the people and businesses of Coventry and the region.”