Spirit of 2012 has today announced the award of a major £1m grant to Coventry City of Culture Trust to rollout a community programme of cultural activities that address the city’s most significant social issues.

Under the umbrella ‘Caring City’, the grant will embed associate producers into four community organisations to develop and deliver community projects which will aim to:

    • increase individual wellbeing;
    • empower people to contribute creatively to their communities;
    • improve social connectedness across social borders;
    • cultivate civic pride and belonging.

Today’s announcement follows a 12-month pilot, funded by Spirit of 2012, where producers have been collaborating with community organisations and service users to develop arts and cultural programmes in the lead-up to Coventry City of Culture 2021. During the pilot year a team of specially trained local volunteers were recruited to be Community Evaluators. This team will gather data and feedback from participants and event organisers to support the University of Warwick’s full evaluation of the City of Culture.

During the pilot, the Caring City team created FEAST, a community celebration at Coventry Cathedral with food provided by local social enterprises tackling social exclusion. Over 250 people attended the event, which saw conversations around breaking down social barriers and increasing social cohesion.

The four partner organisations for Caring City are:

Central England Law Centre which works with individuals with experience of homelessness;

Positive Youth Foundation which works with young people from a range of backgrounds, including those who have experience of the criminal justice system and those who are not in education, employment or training;

Grapevine which works with over-65s, care home residents, people experiencing isolation and loneliness (especially those with learning difficulties and disability), and men with lived experience of mental ill health;

Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre works with asylum seekers, migrants, refugees, and LGBTQ+ people who have fled persecution.

Whilst the application was commissioned before the pandemic, and is the result of more than a year’s working with the Coventry City of Culture Trust team, the proposals have been shaped and adapted to the needs of the community in the current situation.

Ruth Hollis, CEO of Spirit of 2012 said:

“We are delighted to award this grant to Coventry City of Culture, building on the successful Caring City pilot we funded in 2019. Our focus is on creating happier people and happier places, in this instance, in the fantastic city of Coventry in 2021. But this grant will work even harder for us. It will help us learn how to create lasting community connections and civic pride from events, building on our work with Hull.

“This is just one very timely example of how, with the right approach, large-scale events can have a long-lasting positive impact for communities. In awarding the grant, and confirming our on-going relationship with the City of Culture Trust team, the Spirit of 2012 Directors were confident this project will contribute to delivering a proud legacy for Coventry.”

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