West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has become the largest regional investor in Coventry’s City of Culture 2021 after agreeing a new £4 million grant.
The funding, which will be used by the Coventry City of Culture Trust to help cover the costs of putting on a year-long celebration of the arts, was approved by the WMCA Board today (Friday).
It comes on top of a £31m transport investment package which was agreed by the WMCA back in June to help the city with works around Pool Meadow bus station, road and cycle improvements and new lighting in time for 2021.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA board, said: “The City of Culture is a golden opportunity and a brilliant stage on which to showcase the great pool of cultural and digital talent in Coventry and the wider West Midlands.
“It is also great for the residents, through both job and volunteering opportunities, and of course the wide range of events, shows and activities to enjoy or take part in throughout the year. Like the Commonwealth Games the following year, I hope City of Culture will leave a legacy for generations to come.
“I and the WMCA are immensely proud of Coventry City of Culture 2021 and, as our funding commitment shows, we will give it our full support.”
City of Culture is expected to attract 2.5 million visitors, including 50,000 from abroad, and generate £106 million for the region’s tourism sector as well as boost cultural and digital industries.
Around 80 per cent of people in Coventry are expected to visit or experience at least three City of Culture events during the year.
Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “We are delighted to receive this level of support from WMCA, which is a real seal of approval in the major strides we have taken since winning the title just over 18 months ago.
“This funding will help us to deliver a programme that has a positive impact for Coventry – and the wider region – not just in 2021 but well into the future.”
Cllr George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council, said: “This funding is another sign of the faith in our city and our ability to stage not just an amazing year for everyone to enjoy, but to build something lasting for the people of the city now and in the years ahead.
“This is such an exciting time for Coventry. We are currently enjoying our year as European City of Sport and building towards 2021 and our year as City of Culture. The city is changing, with many improvements now underway, and we are seeing new attractions and venues opening their doors.
“Together with investment from the City Council and other sources, this grant will add to that work and help showcase some of the amazing venues and talent in Coventry – creating even more events for residents and visitors to enjoy in 2021.
“The many communities and cultures in Coventry have made us rich in a wide variety of art forms and diversity and we look forward to celebrating all of those and sharing them with everyone to show what a vibrant and amazing city we have.”
City of Culture 2021 has a total cost of £36.4 million, with about a third coming from local sources including the WMCA, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council.
Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council and WMCA portfolio holder for culture and digital, said: “This investment shows that across the region we are backing Coventry to deliver a fantastic cultural experience for residents and visitors.
“It also provides a major opportunity for the region’s digital, arts and culture sector both raising our profile and leaving a lasting legacy.”
Coventry City of Culture Trust will also be supporting innovative businesses as well as developing leadership programmes within the city.