COVENTRY “the most diverse city outside London” will be the next UK City of Culture in 2021, it has been announced.
It beat bookies’ favourite Paisley, as well as Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea for the title which has given such a huge boost to Hull over the past year.
The announcement was made in the Yorkshire city during the BBC’s The One Show, as the current titleholder’s year-long celebration nears an end.
Justine Themen, the community engagement lead for Coventry’s bid, said they had pitched themselves as a “city of cultures.”
She said: “Coventry I believe is the most diverse city outside London.
“We want to celebrate the way we as a city live together relatively harmoniously and use culture to build that as a model for the rest of the country, reflecting diverse communities and moving forward post-Brexit.
“We hope to demonstrate how key culture is to building bridges across difference.”
The bid impressed the judges with its focus on youth, diversity and the scale of impact not only in Coventry but across the UK as a whole.
TV producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, Chair of the Independent Expert Advisory Panel said they had looked for a city “that would push the bar higher than Hull.”
He said any of the cities could have delivered a “very credible” year, but they felt Coventry would deliver “the biggest and best impact for the UK.”
The competition is held every four years, with Derry-Londonderry named as the first winner in 2013.
As part of its status as UK City of Culture 2012, Coventry will be eligible for a £3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Hull raised more £32m in funding from the Government, Heritage Lottery Fund and other arts bodies, as well as the private sector.
It has seen more than 1,000 events, hundreds of artists and nine out of ten residents taking part.
Its impressive arts programme boosted hotel bookings by almost 80 per cent over the summer, according to travel website Expedia.
Chief executive of Hull 2017 Martin Green advised the winners: “Do it your own way.”
He added: “Congratulations to Coventry on becoming the next UK City of Culture. You are in for the ride of your lives. This has been an extraordinary year for Hull and I have no doubt it will be the same for you.”
John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “I would like to congratulate Coventry on winning UK City of Culture 2021.
“The title is an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage.
“We received excellent bids from all the cities and I would like to thank them for their efforts. In 2017 I have seen the truly transformative effect this prestigious title has had on Hull.
“The city has embraced City of Culture and in doing so has demonstrated how culture, the arts and heritage can bring communities together. I look forward to seeing what Coventry has in store in 2021.”
Coventry now has three years to prepare its year-long programme for 2021.