Chenine Bhathena (left) with Hazel Pilling
Chenine Bhathena, the Creative Director for Coventry City of Culture Trust – the organisation that led the bid for the title and will now deliver the programme in 2021, was a guest speaker at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s #CWRocks Business & Trade Expo at the Ricoh Arena.
Chenine told business leaders attending the Learning Labs session as part of the event that the support of companies and organisations across the region had proved invaluable in the bidding phase.
She added that partnership working with businesses was now even more important in the lead up to, during and after the momentous year.
Chenine said: “We wouldn’t be standing here today talking about Coventry being UK City of Culture had it not been for the amazing support we had from the business community right across the region.
“We’re now reaching out for more support from businesses because we know, with your help, we can be extraordinary in 2021.
“The first question I asked myself when I took this role was, ‘what is a City of Culture?’
“Coventry is only the third UK City of Culture after Derry/Londonderry and Hull so we have the opportunity to be who we want to be and do what we want to do with this title. It’s an extraordinary chance to put the city and the region on the map.
“It’s a chance to re-imagine the city and think about ourselves as a future city rooted in our history but considering our global identity. Just like your businesses, we need to make sure we are distinctive and show the world what makes us different.
“We are a creative city, a city of firsts and a city that never stands still.
“When we have this national and global spotlight it’s important that, at this time of great change in the world, we position ourselves as a global leader.
“There is the potential for this to be an amazing five years in the region with European City of Sport, UK City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games all happening after one another. It’s vital that they leave a genuine legacy and create real step change.”
Hazel Pilling, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We were delighted to welcome Chenine to #CWRocks to update businesses on what’s happening with City of Culture.
“The Chamber was one of the very first supporters during the bidding phase because we knew the potential benefits that winning the title would bring. We are all very excited to see how it progresses.”