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Coventry's City of Culture year won't shy from "difficult" issues; Knife crime, homelessness and mental health will all feature in the programme.

Byline: Tom Davis

Coventry's City of Culture programme will be a "joyful celebration" - but won't shy away from the "difficult" social problems the city is facing.

The city was awarded the title for 2021 in December 2017 and work is ongoing to shape the programme of events, which will be revealed in late 2020.

Coventry's City of Culture Trust team will support the council when the Knife Angel sculpture visits in March, which aims to raise awareness of knife crime.

A series of activities around knife crime will also be produced for the spring and summer.

Violent crime, mental health, poverty and homelessness will be some of the issues the trust hopes to focus on as part of the City of Culture title.

Chenine Bhathena, creative director, said: "Whilst we want to come up with a joyful celebratory programme that presents the city in an amazing light we can't ignore the difficult social issues that the city is facing.

"We want to be the first that puts a social conscience in its programme and think about engaging in those issues, and be a leader in discussion and debate.

"We understand that this is about the role that culture plays in strengthening communities and tackling inequalities."

Watch: The woman tasked with leading Coventry's City of Culture year

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But the City of Culture year won't be solve challenging social issues on its own, the council's chief executive Martin Reeves said.

He said at a discussion at a council scrutiny meeting on Wednesday, February 27: "There is something about getting real about what's possible.

"But I do think we can do some really interesting things in 2021 to put smiles on faces."

Coventry City Council news

Ms Bhathena said the programme will "develop Coventry's reputation as a music city", shine a light on "local heroes", and use street art to make the city centre "more playful".

Councillors also suggested holding a community project in every ward of the city to ensure residents are involved.

Cllr John McNicholas said: "You hear we are the City of Culture and there is this excitement but we are not addressing that in the way that we should at a community level."

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Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust

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Publication:Coventry Telegraph (Coventry, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2019
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