Creating a culturally attractive city to live in, work in and enjoy

Coventry City Council has set out its commitment to arts and culture in a new 10-year cultural strategy. This case study forms part of the Value of culture - cultural planning and strategy section of our online Culture Hub.

Coventry is a resilient city which has adapted over time to many changes in its industrial and social landscape, leading to a positive culture of re-invention and re-discovery. In 2017, Coventry City Council and its partners launched a new cultural strategy to help the city build on its heritage and collective values over the next decade. The overarching vision statement is: ‘By 2027 Coventry will be a culturally attractive, vibrant and prosperous city to live in, work in and enjoy. The city is a dynamic place of invention, cultural diversity and youthful ambition and is proud to be a leading city of culture in modern Britain.’

The strategy’s development was funded by Arts Council England-managed funds and Coventry City Council, which commissioned the University of Warwick and Coventry University to research and write it. It was based on a five-month consultation with key stakeholders (the steering group had representatives from the council, education, community and cultural sectors) and a public consultation via a website and workshops. 

Future impact of the activity

The cultural strategy aims to recognise and expand the opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with, experience and enjoy arts and heritage in Coventry. It sets out five goals for cultural growth (partnership, lifelong learning, diversity, health and wellbeing and economic growth) underpinned by seven ‘big ideas’, objectives that will support transformation of the city’s cultural life. Progress will be monitored throughout the decade.

Councillor Linda Bigham, Cabinet Member for Community Development, said: “The strategy is a really important and powerful document... Coventry is rich in culture and this document will help to keep us focused so that every single person who lives here can access arts and education in the city in whatever form suits them.”

The strategy calls for a strong partnership approach between cultural organisations and the many community groups offering neighbourhood-level cultural activity. This will create opportunities to share resources and costs and develop new projects. It was important to create a flexible strategy in order to stay fresh and embrace new ideas, people and technologies. The strategy will act as a framework for development plans and will be revisited every two years, with an ongoing research and evaluation process.

Clare Mitchell, Development Manager for Arts and Cultural Partnerships, said:

This is a 10-year journey. Through research we know where we are; through consultation we know where we would like to be; and through continued dialogue and creative action we can make change take place.

The strategy complements a broad range of council priorities, from health and learning to supporting jobs and growth. It identifies how a strong cultural offer can play a significant role in supporting wider agendas.

Clare Mitchell said: “The impact is twofold, firstly through offering capacity-building opportunities for the cultural sector. We are working with the creative industries, enabling them to become more resilient and business-minded, and as a result they are securing new income streams that directly impact on the wider city agendas. Secondly, with its senior partnership sign-off, the strategy gives us the opportunity to work together with our partners. It gives us all the chance to think differently, celebrate what we are good at and face challenges in new, creative ways.”

Key learning points

  • Developing the strategy through a partnership approach was essential in order to secure the long-term vision.
  • Recognise each partner’s distinct skills, pressures and expertise: these strengths and priorities will allow partners to benefit from different opportunities and support the strategy in different ways.
  • Value the process: the strategy is not only about a better future but also a better ‘now’. Value each consultation, event and conversation, as they will set the tone for the journey.

For further information contact Clare Mitchell, Development Manager, Coventry City Council: [email protected]

Download the full strategy.