City of Culture staff projects

City of Culture staff projects

All have engaged with the city’s communities and many have been led by ECR staff. A significant number have involved high levels of student participation and have developed or generated research. These projects are in addition to the co-funded research projects with the University of Warwick.


Credit Dylan Parrin

We will be implementing COVID-19 mitigation actions for all of our projects to ensure a safe environment to all involved and audiences. This will include social distancing and limited numbers, alongside online alternatives if needed.

Round 1

  • In the UK, due to migration and displacement, the number of South Indians and Sri Lankan Tamils has increased considerably.

    This increase has led to the formation of local communities and support businesses that are actively encouraging the learning and performing of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance. Coventry, with its large South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, is developing as an important centre for Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam dance.

    Research led by Coventry University lecturer Roopa Aruvanahalli Nagaraju aims to map this growth with a view to establish Coventry as a major hub for Carnatic music and dance learning in the UK and ultimately establish an annual Carnatic festival in the city.

    Learn more about the Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam Dance project.

  • Inspired by a project run by the Brooklyn Art Library, this project will distribute 2021 sketchbooks to capture life in all wards of Coventry.

    The project is led by Emily Manns, a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, who wants to reach people from as many nationalities as possible in order to capture the diversity of experiences in the city.

    The books have been distributed since 2018, with the aim of them being collected them for the City of Culture year in 2021 and made available to the public through the library.

    Learn more about Coventry Sketchbook project.

  • A multimedia project that will document the legacy of dance in the city of Coventry.

    The aim is to create three films, four podcasts and five visual banners which will be displayed in the city using projectors.

    Led by Rosemary Cisneros, Research Fellow, in the Centre for Dance Research, the project aims to bring forward a range of dance artists, festival organisers, dance schools and local groups, among other key people, and allow them to share their stories with the wider Coventry community.

    Learn more about Dancing Bodies in Coventry

  • The Gratitude Wall project connects health, art and culture through community art and sharing stories in creative ways that help spread hope and gratitude.

    The project, led by Gabriela Matouskova, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Hope 4 The Community, is inspired by Coventry University research that shows that expression of gratitude improves mental health, resilience and builds friendships.

    The community art project has toured museums, galleries, festivals, schools and workplaces and more than 8,000 people have shared what they are thankful for.

  • This project will disseminate in-depth discussions with the people who made Coventry’s newspapers.

    Led by Rachael Matthews, Associate Head of School, School of Media and Performing Arts and a former journalist, this project takes the form of a video and tells the story of newspapers from the perspective of editorial staff and those working in printing and distribution.

    This project will provide a first-hand account of the role the local press played in shaping Coventry in the second half of the twentieth century.

  • Celebrating Coventry’s rich industrial traditions, this event explores the cultural impact of the city’s industrial heritage and its impact on the social and economic lives of Coventry’s citizens.

    Led by Jason Begley, Associate Professor,  Research Centre for Business in Society, this project will explore the impact industry has had on the city through an exhibition and also a number of lectures exploring how it has effected gender, immigration and employment.

  • This project, led by Annette Roebuck, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, will co-produce a film to explore how key public health issues such as obesity, smoking, exercise, and loneliness, are experienced by vulnerable people and how health messages may be communicated more effectively to be inclusive to all.

    The film is intended to highlight health messages and to challenge negative perceptions of all vulnerable service users.

  • A collaboration between Coventry University dance students, Off-Balance Dance, dance graduates and eight schools across the city including primary schools and special schools; Interwoven is a project designed to help young people celebrate dance across the city.

    Led by Andrea Barzey, Associate Head of Performing Arts, at Coventry University, Interwoven will look to close boundaries and bring people together through dance, with the schools being located across a city which features many different cultural and socioeconomic experiences to be shared and learned from.

  • An interdisciplinary project led by Ralph Kenna, Professor in the Faculty Research Centre in Fluid and Complex Systems, which marries humanities and mathematics to investigate narrative sources such as chronicles, myths and folk tales across nations to deliver insight into their unifying and distinguishing characteristics and thereby how cultures spread and evolve.

    Learn more about Maths meets Myths.

  • Led by Glenn Noble, current PA undergraduates and recent graduates will be working in partnership with theatre company The Fabularium to create a new piece of promenade performance work which will be presented in the city’s parklands over three days.

  • Led by Dr Phillip Gould, Associate Head of School, School of Life Sciences, this project aims to provide insights into infection.

    An innovative mix of lecture, practical demonstration and dance, asking audiences to better understand the role of science in researching and combating antimicrobial resistance.

    Learn more about the Transmission project.

  • Led by Jasber Singh, Associate Professor, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, and facilitated by the Global Warwickshire Collective (GWC), this project is focused on uncovering the hidden histories written by British African Caribbean peoples in historic Warwickshire.

    Through training and engagement, the intention of this project is to inspire community members to take more active ownership of and involvement in the production of our histories, and to challenge the exclusivity of historical scholarship in Britain.

Round 2

  • George Eliot lived in Coventry between 1840 and 1849, and modelled the fictional space of her best-known novel, Middlemarch, on the city.

    In anticipation of the 150th anniversary of Middlemarch in 2021 and Coventry’s role as UK City of Culture in the same year, the project, led by Lynsey McCulloch, investigates this novelist’s relationship with the Midlands with the aim of curating a travelling exhibition on the subject of Eliot’s Coventry.

    This mobile exhibition will consider the employment of Coventry within Eliot’s fiction—employing words, images and artefacts, in addition to audio-visual and digital components. It will also consider Eliot’s afterlife and her status within twenty-first century Coventry, a post-industrial city with a large BAME population, and interrogate the ‘provincial’ reputation of the Midlands, a moniker the area still retains.

  • This project aims at enhancing the sense of belonging to the local community for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) learners at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC). 

    Exploring the human values in Shakespeare’s works and their contribution to the English language, Zoe Gazeley-Eke, project lead, links the City of Culture theme ‘Being Human’ to that of investigating the creation of a sense of community through language learning.

  • ‘Dancing Bodies in Coventry’ is a multimedia project that will continue to document the legacy of dance in the city of Coventry. The first iteration made 16 films, a podcast, and several visual banners/posters, and went out into the city to creatively share those materials with a variety of communities using projecting techniques.

    This second iteration, the team, led by Rosa Cisneros, will aim to make 3 films, record 2 podcast episodes and commission two dance companies to carry out research and development (R&D) and create new choreographic work in the city. DBiC-II will include the videos that were previously made and reuse them in a number of creative contexts. Two artists will be commissioned to create work built on a reading of the past DBiC materials already produced within the project and ask them to interview local citizens from the Roma and migrant/refugee communities. These interviews will serve as a springboard for the new dance works in the R&D phase. 

    Learn more about Dancing Bodies in Coventry.

  • Cultures (yeast/bacteria) used in fermentation can give beer a unique profile comparable to fine wine. Most famously in Belgium wild yeasts are used to produce Lambic beer, where quality is prized over quantity and unique microflora gives each producer’s beer a distinct flavour. Cultures of Coventry will create two brews that are the ultimate expression of our local area.

    Drawing on local knowledge, four food/drink enterprises will collaborate with a diverse team of staff and students led by Sean Graham. The brewers will take their first steps into the high-end barrel aged wild beer industry, after which, an MSc student alongside our technical support will analyses the beers to identify and track the development of the local cultures. The student will be supported by a team of food scientist, microbiologist and molecular biologist academics.

    Two beers will be produced; Lady Godiva (blonde) and Peeping Tom (dark), which will be barrel-aged between 12-18 months to allow the cultures to develop. They will be kegged, bottled and launched in 2021.

  • Led by Ashleigh Hargrave of the Vice Chancellor's Office, this project aims to increase community wellbeing, strengthen cohesion and develop intergenerational learning by running open events at an allotment site. Project members will host a minimum of six community events on the Lake View Allotments site throughout 2020.

    The events will be themed according to growing seasons and multi-cultural events and will focus on food and the sharing of growing, gardening and cooking skills.
    The benefits of the project include:

    • Improved mental health and wellbeing.
    • Community learning about traditional produce and cooking from the UK and around the world.
    • Awareness of heritage seeds.
    • Sharing of intergenerational skills and expertise.
    • Increased biodiversity on the site and in gardens by encouraging bees, bats and hover flies.
  • Home-Made in Foleshill will see staff members, graduates and undergraduates on the BA Illustration & Animation and BA Games Art work with three Primary schools in Foleshill to deliver a month of weekly workshops in April and May 2020 designed to explore home-made creative processes through film, animation, drawing and storytelling.

    Foleshill is listed as having one of the highest levels of child poverty in the city and the lowest levels of engagement in the arts. Building on the success of arts and heritage project We HeART Foleshill (supported by the John Thaw Foundation and Aylesford Charitable Trust) and led by Francis Lowe, an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Home-made aims to increase cultural access for children in diverse and hard-to-reach communities through responsive, process-led workshops.

  • Working across the CU Group and drawing on archives held by the university such as the Richardson and Donnelly & Thoms oral history collections, this application will research and develop initial stories relating to the automotive history and begin to make them available to the public online and as initial social media stories. This will be in the form of parts of the existing audio recordings made available and edited into a video with archive photography of the era placed over the top as visuals, with accompanying transcripts as a study aid and quotes eg “the whole family worked in the car plant”…. “when it closed the whole community closed down” etc.

    This project is led by Anthony Hughes of the Lanchester Interactive Archive.

  • Coventry-born writer and director Jude Christian’s acclaimed play NANJING explores themes of identity, memory and forgiveness in a personal response to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Members of CTPSR and C-DaRE will work with Jude to hold participatory workshops at performances of NANJING in Coventry, the Royal Court Theatre (London) and at its China premiere in Nanjing in 2020.

    Led by Elly Harrowell, Assistant Professor, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, these workshops will form the basis of a new work to be performed alongside NANJING in Coventry, 2021.

  • This seed funding will enable the initial stages of a project designed to re-engage the public with Coventry’s largely hidden River Sherbourne through a public-facing event in May 2020, held in an empty shop behind Palmers Lane where the river is briefly visible but where people have few positive reasons to venture. This event will include displays of an FAH student competition; a ‘big draw’ encouraging public participation; and an online resource that charts the river, its history and future and advertises and archives the events.

    The project is led by Imogen Racz, Associate Head for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Associate within the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities. Also included will be planned urban regeneration project displays by WWT and HCT.

  • This project is led by Joe Thorogood, Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing, and will use open-source geospatial, remotely sensed and user-generated geospatial data and archival records to identify Right of Ways (RoW’s) in and around Coventry and Warwickshire not registered on the Warwickshire and West Midlands ‘Definitive Maps’. Archival and user’s geospatial data can be permissible evidence of a RoW’s usage and submitted to County Councils as Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs) to preserve missing routes.

    In spring of 2020, we will run a day-long educational workshop in Coventry University’s Simulation Centre with The Warwickshire Ramblers, the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Coventry City Council Rights of Way Office.

  • The project, led by Paul Elsam, CU Scarborough, draws on the reputation of the city of Coventry as ‘a place of peace and reconciliation’. Actions at the heart of the project are investigation, reflection, and sympathetic representation.

    The plan is for a Summer 2020 tour of Coventry University’s ‘places’ – Coventry, London, Scarborough, Wrocław - to learn something of what is being done, within cultural contexts, to release silenced voices. Depending on budget, the tour may include visits to some of the City of Coventry’s European twins – places such as Arnhem, Belgrade, Dresden, Kiel, Lidice, Ostrava, Sarajevo, and Volgograd – many of which are linked as a result of historic loss and collective suffering.

  • As a cultural symbol of Coventry, the Lady Godiva legend has contributed in unique ways to the development of the law. Lady Godiva’s ride through the streets of Coventry, motivated by advocacy for the lower classes and a critique of the rights of men over women’s bodies, raises modern day legal questions about the legality of voyeurism, public indecency, women’s rights and advocacy.

    This proposed project led by Monica Ingber, The Trial of Lady Godiva, aims to demonstrate the resultant socio-legal impact that Lady Godiva has had in both local and global contexts. The project comprises a stage play, written by Professor Stephen Hardy, placing Lady Godiva on trial for the crime of public indecency. In doing so, it will demonstrate how the legend informs our contemporary understanding of the law. There will be twelve performances (3 weekly) over a four-week period, including matinees for schools and colleges.

Round 3

  • Led by Lynsey McCulloch, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the primary output of this project is a mobile pop-up exhibition on the subject of George Eliot's relationship with Coventry and the Midlands. This was envisaged pre-Covid as a live, rather than digital, exhibition - to be held first in the lobby of Coventry University's George Eliot Building and subsequently in libraries and public spaces locally.

  • This project explores the unique and exceptional role of Coventry and the Midlands in the foundation of the British Black Art Movement (BAM) in the 1980s. Although underrepresented in the local art scene, art-related syllabi and prevailing local narrative, Coventry was home to a paradigm shift in British art history. Key figures of the movement, including Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers, met in the city, when studying in the art foundation course at the Lanchester Polytechnic (1979-80). In 1983, these artists participated in the historical Pan Afrikan Connection exhibition at the Herbert, giving an unprecedented visibility to the movement.

    Black Arts Movement in Coventry will celebrate this legacy. The project is being led by Professor Carolina Rito from the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities.

    Learn more about the Black Arts Movement in Coventry.

  • A continuation of the project from Round 1 of the scheme.

    Inspired by the famous Brooklyn sketchbook project and supported by UK City of Culture funding, the university has been distributing the sketchbooks in and around Coventry free of charge. 

    The university’s school of art and design launched the project to challenge the public to fill the books with drawings and paintings of the city, documenting their creative visions of Coventry, giving them the opportunity to play their part and put their personal stamp on this year’s celebrations.

  • The Wikimedia movement, of which Wikipedia is the best known part, envisions:

    “A world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.”

    Our playful approach will enable and encourage the people of Coventry to participate in this worthwhile activity by delivering informal training and mentoring through several community engagement events, held in conjunction with partner organisations. Participants will be shown how to create open-licensed content (Wikipedia articles, images and multimedia on Wikimedia Commons, data sets on Wikidata, etc.) recording the history and culture of the city and that of its diverse communities. Follow-up online support will also be available. This will embed digital fluency skills and confidence within local communities, which experience of similar programmes elsewhere shows will continue to have benefits long after the formal programme has ended.

    The project is led by Andy Mabbett, Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), and training will be delivered by DMLL student activators, utilising the model successfully employed by the University's Linguae Mundi and Digital Leaders programme.

  • Led by David Reed of Lanchester Library, this project aims to create reading fervour throughout Coventry during 2021 by promoting specific reading lists reflecting City of Culture themes, with connected activities, linking with reader groups and City Libraries activities and targets including ‘One Million Reads’, and providing a framework within which the other Library Projects sit.

    The Coventry community will be consulted via social media platforms and via emails to groups from the Community Information Database and Reader Groups requesting their choice of the best books to celebrate Coventry, City of Culture and ‘Coventry Moves’ enabling a degree of community curation. The library team would agree on the 6 books and will hope to include titles which are accessible, reflect Coventry’s diversity, a bestseller and a ‘slow burn’, and poetry. The 6 books will be displayed in both university libraries and in as many City Libraries as practicable. To launch the event 10 copies of each title (60 in total) will be gifted to the Coventry community via homeless charities and food banks.

    100 copies of each title will be purchased: 10 to gift, 20 to Coventry University, 20 to University of Warwick, 50 to City libraries for circulation.

  • Coventry-born writer and director Jude Christian’s acclaimed play NANJING explores themes of identity, memory and forgiveness in a personal response to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Members of CTPSR and C-DaRE will work with Jude to hold participatory workshops at performances of NANJING in Coventry and the Royal Court Theatre (London) in 2020. These workshops will form the basis of a new work to be performed alongside NANJING in Coventry 2021 as part of City of Culture.

  • As a cultural symbol of Coventry, the Lady Godiva legend has contributed in unique ways to the development of the law. Lady Godiva’s ride through the streets of Coventry, motivated by advocacy for the lower classes and a critique of the rights of men over women’s bodies, raises modern day legal questions about the legality of voyeurism, public indecency, women’s rights and advocacy. This proposed project, The Trial of Lady Godiva, aims to demonstrate the resultant socio-legal impact that Lady Godiva has had in both local and global contexts.

    The project comprises a stage play, written by Professor Stephen Hardy, placing Lady Godiva on trial for the crime of public indecency. In doing so, it will demonstrate how the legend informs our contemporary understanding of the law. There will be twelve performances (3 weekly) over a four-week period, including matinees for schools and colleges.

  • Led by Taryn Storey, Centre for Dance Research, the aim of the project is to create a touring puppet theatre show for children in Coventry ages 0-5 years old. Working through masterclasses with Puppet Maker Andrew Purvin, 25 students on the BA Theatre and Professional Practice course will learn how to make 4 foot puppets and large puppet animals.

    Working with a professional theatre director who specialises in Theatre for Young Audiences, they will then create and rehearse a 30-40 minute show. This will be toured to 15 early years providers in the city, and be performed at the Coventry Cultural Education Partnership’s Early years fun day in June 2021 alongside student led workshops.

Round 4

  • ‘Belonging in Coventry: A Shakespearean ESOL Journey for Refugees and Migrants’ is a community project that facilitates cross-cultural collaboration between the diverse population of Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) English language learners and university TEFL students. It will create innovative ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) materials focusing on the local, regional, national and global cultural icon William Shakespeare.

    Led by Faculty of Arts and Humanities Assistant Professor Zoe Gazeley-Eke and with the support of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, it is envisaged that this collaboration will help all involved to develop a deeper understanding of their local community while also celebrating its richness. The involvement of CRMC will help to develop the themes of diversity, social justice and inclusion and will support students with becoming more aware of local and global citizenship issues. It will also enhance the experience of CRMC learners and their awareness of Shakespeare’s heritage.

  • Experiences of sexual and domestic abuse have lifelong impacts, undermining health, adversely affecting family life and personal relationships, reducing prospects in work and education, and hindering engagement in hobbies and wider culture and society.

    The SAASST (Sexual Assault & Abuse Strategy Steering Team) partnership focuses on prevention and ensuring best practice care and support is offered to all those affected by sexual violence locally. One goal is to enhance public understanding about the nature of abuse occurring in young people’s relationships. It is strengthened by links to national, ground-breaking research taking place at Coventry University, which includes Coventry sites and engages young survivors of abuse.

    The partnership has teamed up with a local production company and Coventry-based dramatic artists to produce an engaging, accessible, three-minute film depicting the signs and impacts of abuse occurring between two young people. Impact will arise from influencing young people and others to recognise different guises of abuse and to reach out to partnering agencies for advice and support.

    This project is being led by Lorna O’Doherty, Associate Professor, Centre for Intelligent Healthcare.

  • In 1989, multiple species of grassland and heritage crop plants began blooming from seeds that had lain dormant for hundreds of years as they became exposed during archaeological excavations at Half‐Moon Yard (the site between Drapers’ Hall and Metropolis). This rare phenomenon offered a unique insight into the urban and peri‐urban interdependencies of medieval Coventry, and the species were carefully documented in a botanical survey.

    The Heritage Seed Library at Ryton Gardens, near Coventry, works to protect heirloom seed varieties via community seed exchange and conservation. In a world where seed resilience is being compromised through the reduction of diversity, this work is essential to preserving a healthy future.

    Led by Faculty of Arts and Humanities Assistant Professor Sebastian Hicks, this project draws on the buried history, recorded in the 1989 paper, to provide the ‘trace elements’ for the definition of a ‘heritage’ Coventry garden.

    The result will be the curation of a temporary public space that reconnects the city with its heritage through seeds and creates a space of wellbeing and refuge. The inter‐disciplinary approach will explore the relationship between bio‐diversity maintenance, the built environment, non‐anthropocentric design, the creative/resilient public realm and urban health. The garden will create space for generational and cultural knowledge exchange.

  • Led by Lecturer in Sport and Event Management Paul Cartlidge, this project will deliver a series of workshops to students at Sidney Stringer Academy (SSA) Multi Academy Trust. The local school is developing its media production and the entertainment business programme, but lacks some equipment and expertise in crucial areas.

    Through a series of ‘masterclasses’ facilitated by university students, women entertainment professionals from local media companies such as Christie Lites, PSP AV, and PRG UK will provide industry insights. The aim is to close the gap in understanding of the available employment opportunities in cultural fields, while providing essential role models.

    During March and April 2022, SSA has planned activity around the themes of “Amazing Women” and “Green Futures”. The project will align with this by enabling the students to create various outputs during the masterclasses around sustainability, while providing insight into post-18 avenues.

    The outputs will be displayed in Coventry University buildings and City of Culture spaces.

  • Launched to coincide with Coventry’s City of Culture year, Coventry Phoenix Film Festival is taking place on 22 and 23 April 2022 around the theme of ‘Movement’. The intention is to grow its scale and scope as an annual event. The programme will consist of screenings of curated work and films selected from two competition categories, as well as talks and networking.

    The festival is organised by a team of people from MPA in collaboration with Lanchester Library. It is supported, financially and in kind, by Film Hub Midlands, part of the BFI Film Audience Network aiming to develop a thriving film culture in the area. We are also supported by CineCov, a 12-month programme to transform Coventry into a cinema for its year as UK City of Culture.

    The festival is a great way of raising the profile of our growing film and media courses. As Coventry does not currently have a mainstream professional film festival, it will help to engage students and staff on our courses, and also the wider community.

    This project is led by Assistant Professor in Film Production Sanna Wicks with the Centre for Post Digital Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Lanchester Library.

  • This project aims to explore the links between the cities of Coventry and Wrocław. Both cities have significant stories from the Second World War and a declared intention to work for peace and reconciliation from that experience. The focus of this link will be the lives of two Christian theologians, both of whom were murdered in concentration camps: Edith Stein (Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    Project lead and Free Church chaplain Pauline Warner will travel to the Wrocław to explore the relevant sites of interest in order to devise a guided tour. Having done so, she will give a public lecture on Edith Stein and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as speaking to local groups such as the Coventry Society and local churches.

    The primary purpose of this project is to introduce the people of Coventry to the Coventry University Wrocław campus, bridging the ‘town-gown’ gap.

  • Led by Karen Wood and Lily Hayward-Smith from the Centre for Dance Research, this project consists of installations and performance as well as engagement workshops with different communities. The installation, ‘The Shape of Sound’, is an artist impression of the hair cells inside the cochlea of the inner ear. The hair cells are represented through suspended strands of delicate silk and wool threads. The performance is an exploration of the installation through listening, movement and touch, highlighting the element of touch in the physical process of hearing a sound. Open rehearsals are taking place as part of the Being Human Festival Coventry Hub.

    The dance artists explore the installation through deep listening and movement with the strands, and interact with light, darkness, shadows and silence within space.

    The five workshops proposed will involve making sculptures of the bones in the middle ear out of clay. The artists will discuss how these bones transfer energy from the air to a fluid environment. A movement element will involve moving with the installation and listening to the body. Workshops will be adapted for the different groups, i.e. school age participants, family groups, senior participants, students.

City of Culture projects

Have a look at the variety of our projects

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University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2020
Coventry City of Culture 2021