Window Wanderland (Photograph: Jamie Gray)
The Evaluation of the Love Coventry Programme report was published in February 2023. It covers the period from the award of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund in early 2020 up until the end of September 2022. It therefore includes the planning and delivery stages.
The Love Coventry programme was a major UK City of Culture 2021 (UK CoC 2021) strand that celebrated community and citizens’ stories from all neighbourhoods of the city. It focused on building a sustainable legacy through training and upskilling organisations, community groups and community champions.
Projects were co-created together with Coventry citizens, with decisions made around content rooted in the needs and desires of local communities. It provided the opportunity for them to significantly engage within a major arts and cultural programme.
The Love Coventry programme was delivered by the Collaborative City (geographically focused) producing team operating within the Coventry City of Culture Trust. It built on work undertaken within communities in Coventry during the UK CoC 2021 bidding period and shone a light on local stories, bringing arts and culture to the doorsteps of citizens.
The programme was grouped into four delivery strands:
- Support Structures, Networks, and Legacy – facilitated collaboration between professional and community producers to ensure that delivery elements were in place.
- Connecting People With Place – animated, celebrated, explored and improved local neighbourhoods by empowering people to tell their different stories.
- Citywide Scalables – built on the existing community strengths, with skills shared and individuals supported to develop and extend equality of access to all.
- Celebrating and Amplifying Cultures – brought people together to build strong relationships in and across communities and create memories and stronger social bonds.
It is estimated that the Love Coventry programme had an audience reach of approximately 50,000 people through in-person and online activity.
More than 120 community groups and organisations were involved in the creation and delivery of the Love Coventry programme. Many of these groups engaged with multiple projects and have committed to continuing to work within the communities they serve.
Events such as Caribbean Reggae Fever, the Eastern European HeARTS Festival, Love Ireland, Abundance, and the Unapologetic Festival all shone a spotlight on city communities that had not previously featured in Coventry’s publicly funded, mainstream arts and culture programmes.
The creativity of citizens was unlocked through events like Window Wanderland, which saw citizens take the lead in organising window trails within their communities, and the amateur community performing groups that took centre stage as part of the GENERATE Festival over the summer of 2021 and again in 2022.
The entirety of the Love Coventry programme was co-created with citizens from the city and its local communities. This generated positive survey findings concerning participants’ perceptions of Coventry and the increase in civic pride.
The Love Coventry programme touched all neighbourhoods of Coventry and put the stories of communities and citizens centre stage.
Targeting of cultural activity to the groups that need it most has been beneficial for increasing cultural participation.
Making use of the existing networks and infrastructures in the city instead of creating new ones has meant that community groups, organisations, and champions have been upskilled and are ready to continue working with the communities they serve.
The Evaluation of the Love Coventry report was written by Mark Scott, with support from Professor Jonothan Neelands, both Warwick Business School. It was written on behalf of the monitoring and evaluation team.
The Love Coventry programme was primarily funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.