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City Change Through Culture: Securing the Place Legacy of Coventry City of Culture 2021


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Value of the project


Project team

Nick Henry, Tim Hammerton


University of Warwick, Coventry City Council

Duration of the project

January 2022 - June 2023

Project overview

Led by Coventry University, this place-based knowledge exchange project was one of nine grants awarded as part of the AHRC’s wider place-based programme (managed by the University of Glasgow). It had three main aims:

  • build a programme around new knowledge exchange projects and existing investments in place
  • demonstrate the effectiveness of arts and humanities research for addressing the needs of different locales
  • make the case for further investment

Our Coventry place-based knowledge exchange project targeted sharing of research and evaluation materials on Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture (UK CoC 2021) through a range of innovative knowledge exchange and dissemination outputs. It did so by building on the partnerships and relationships formed through the development and delivery of Coventry’s year as UK CoC 2021.

Impact statement

The project created a website and resource platform, Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 Research and Evaluation Platform, which has brought together and created a window into around fifty outputs associated with research and evaluation of UK CoC 2021.

This includes utilising knowledge gained and data available, including to inform future strategy and planning within Coventry City Council.

The knowledge exchange project supported the initial consultation for the Coventry Cultural Compact’s mid-term (2022) refresh of the Coventry Cultural Strategy and partners will continue to advise on its future governance structure.

A legacy of the work undertaken is that Coventry University has invested in a new research centre. The Centre for Creative Economies will maintain the university’s active role in working with place-based partners.


The Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 Research and Evaluation Platform is the key overarching resource generated by the project.

Coventry University and the Coventry City Council’s Insights Team organised several cultural data knowledge exchange events:

  • lightning talks for City Council staff/a webinar to broaden awareness of the type of UK CoC 2021 data collected, that included ticketing, cultural participation and sentiment, as well as related attitudes to Covid-19
  • the Coventry Cultural Challenge made open data available to members of the public and gave them the opportunity to develop evidenced ideas and proposals with the potential ‘to make life better in Coventry’
  • stakeholders were able to immerse themselves in ‘Walking Through Coventry Data' at the Reel Store and learn about the city in a new way through use of data insights, and photographs and videos of Coventry through the year

With so many images, videos and assets generated during the UK CoC 2021-year, work was undertaken to catalogue and store them within the Coventry Digital archive, including adding searchable keywords and metadata.

The final project output was an animated series of reflections from the monitoring and evaluation of UK CoC 2021. Key points were identified by the team, which were incorporated into a script, with each member recording a section. Animation was provided by Yikki Studio Ltd.

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