Research Workshop at St Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry (Photograph: Kelly Mostert)
In addition to the commissioned focus studies and future trends series, there have been many other studies undertaken in relation to the UK City of Culture 2021 (UK CoC 2021). Each study illustrates a different aspect of the year and helps to paint a more vivid picture of Coventry.
Transforming Leadership Programme
The Transforming Leadership programme was designed to support a diverse group of established, independent and emerging leaders through a two-and-a-half-year leadership programme.
The aim was to diversify and strengthen the leadership of Coventry’s cultural organisations, museums and libraries, to help nurture a new generation of cultural entrepreneurs who would represent and reflect the city of Coventry.
Research and Future Cities of Culture
As the UK City of Culture programme matures, it is important to establish a foundation of evidence-led learning to guide future iterations and secure continuity of learning and investment. The review, published in June 2022, promotes a research-led approach to how culture might lead to impacts that address the specific needs of a place and its diverse communities.
Arts and Homelessness in Coventry
A report published in August 2022, based on a three-year study, considered Arts and Homelessness in Coventry in relation to UK CoC 2021. It examined initiatives to re-think and re-position how arts and creativity can change perceptions, policy and outcomes for those who are or have been homeless in Coventry. It centres attention on two initiatives specifically:
- a Legislative Theatre project to refresh Coventry City Council’s homelessness policy and rough sleeper strategy via co-production methodologies
- HOME: arts and homelessness festival that ran 9−16 October 2021 to coincide with World Homelessness Day on 10 October.
Verbatim Theatre: an Innovatory Method for Policymaking
The report, which introduces Headphone Verbatim Theatre (HVT), was published in April 2022.
HVT is a method of data gathering that involves a performance created solely from the words spoken by interview participants. It responds to the challenges faced by policymakers around incorporating citizen experiences in policy design and evaluation.
HVT was used to gather feedback on UK CoC 2021, which was shared during a live performance, offering an effective and emotive connection between citizens and policy makers.
Traditional and Digital Broadcasting
A report evaluating the two strands of the UK CoC 2021 broadcast programme was published in March 2023. The first strand covered traditional approaches, involving television, radio and web, with the second focusing upon digital use of social media, live streaming and podcasts.
Broadcast mentorship and training sessions provided young people in Coventry with an invaluable opportunity to develop related skills, and to learn about careers in broadcasting from experts in the industry. There were also opportunities for emerging local talents to achieve their first broadcast commissions and appearances.
Cultural Engagement and Wellbeing
As part of the analysis of data from the Coventry Household Survey 2022, for the evaluation of UK CoC 2021, potential links between cultural engagement and wellbeing were examined.
The results found that greater cultural engagement led to individuals having higher wellbeing scores.
Key Cities: Culture and Place in Britain
The report calls for a more inclusive approach to stimulating the economy and highlighting a link between low cultural engagement and deprivation. It includes comparative results of a cultural survey and makes a series of stakeholder-led recommendations, including investing in creative industries and putting culture at the heart of a renewed drive for hyper-local devolution.
In spring 2020, the City of Culture University Partnership funded 18 local artists to respond to, and work with, researchers from the University of Warwick and Coventry University − resulting in a wide range of innovative artworks presented through a digital exhibition.
From social sciences to arts, to science and medicine, researchers worked with artists to create artistic commissions, resulting in a Digital Exhibition in October 2020. This was updated with 12 new projects in 2021 due to funding from both universities and Arts Council England.
Evaluating Cities and Capitals of Culture
In May 2022, an article in Arts Professional magazine entitled Evaluating Cities and Capitals of Culture considered that research-based evaluation should be:
- focused on learning (not on the celebration of CoC events or on PR to this end)
- polyvocal and inclusive of interested constituencies
- critical, independent and resistant to boosterism, hype and any attempts at censorship.