Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry to enter City of Culture race

Dancers in Coventry Image copyright Coventry City Council
Image caption The council said it hoped the bid would be worth £80m to the area's economy

Coventry is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2021 in what is described as a "huge opportunity".

The bid is being led by a group of councillors, businessmen, arts groups and the city's two universities.

The council said it hoped the bid would be worth £80m to the area's economy and prompt a huge rise in tourist numbers.

In 2013, Hull was named the UK's City of Culture for 2017, beating off competition from Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay.

'Vibrant arts groups'

The city council agreed to support the bid at its meeting on Monday.

It said it would provide up to £250,000 to prepare the bid, with support from private investors.

Councillors agreed to spend a year researching and developing the bid, followed by a fundraising campaign, before delivering a final submission to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2017.

Businessman David Burbidge, who is leading the bid, said: "This is a huge opportunity for Coventry, particularly with support from Warwickshire and the surrounding area, and I feel we are very well placed to launch a serious and ultimately successful bid.

Image copyright Coventry City Council
Image caption The group leading the bid believes it is a "huge opportunity" for the area

"The social, cultural and economic possibilities this would bring are absolutely vast. We have a wonderfully diverse city and some strong cultural assets.

"In Coventry we have great museums, the Belgrade Theatre, The Coventry Godiva Festival and vibrant independent arts groups."

Image caption Poet Philip Larkin was born in the city

What's cultural about Coventry?

  • The city has a wealth of history. Shakespeare and Elizabeth I are said to have visited while one of the city's most enduring legends concerns the exploits of Lady Godiva
  • Poet Philip Larkin was born in the city while Benjamin Britten chose to premiere his War Requiem in Coventry's new cathedral following World War Two
  • Coventry's music scene attracted attention during the late 1970s and early 1980s, in particular for its associations with the 2 Tone ska movement through bands like The Specials and The Selecter

The UK city of culture scheme was started by the government in 2009, following the success of Liverpool's European City of Culture title.

The UK scheme is awarded every four years.

Faye Abbott, who has been leading the bid for the council, said the bid was an "amazing opportunity" for the city.

"The time is right for Coventry to go for it," she said. "It's time for us to get serious about transforming the image of the city, raise our profile... and make Coventry people really proud of all we have here."

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