To find some answers, we are holding what we think is the UK’s first Citizens’ Assembly on Arts & Culture, and 50 Coventry people have been selected to take part.

Throughout October/November, the Art for the People Citizens’ Assembly on Arts & Culture will listen to expert witnesses, discuss what they have learned and contribute their ideas for how culture can impact on real lives in the city and help shape a better future for us all.

At the end of November the recommendations drawn up by this Assembly will be presented to the City Council to inform the re-focusing of the city’s Cultural Strategy. Talking Birds will commission and produce a series of pilot projects in Coventry neighbourhoods in Spring 2022 which test out the recommendations, and lend them extra weight. The recommendations this Assembly makes will also influence our work for (at least) the next 5 years.

Why we think we need Art for the People

We believe that arts, culture and creativity are a fundamental part of everybody’s lives – the music we listen to, a dance around the kitchen as we cook, the rhythms we tap out with our feet while waiting for a bus, the photographs we post on social media…

Our taxes help pay for galleries, music venues and arts companies – and the TV dramas we watch, the books we read and the festivals we go to show us different lives and experiences, and give us things to talk about.

We don’t acknowledge it very often, but art is a powerful part of all of our lives – it binds us together, helps us understand ourselves and the world, and is part of what makes us human.

We want Coventry’s year as City of Culture to increase the conversation around art and culture, creativity and imagination – and we want to find ways for Coventry people to have a say in how our city views, values and uses arts, culture and creativity.

With the pandemic, the climate crisis and the social and racial inequality that we humans are facing right now, Talking Birds believe that we all need to think creatively in order to ‘build back better’.

We also believe that every sector will need to play a part in building a better future, so our question to you is what part could, or should, the arts play?

Art for the People will discuss the question: How will art, culture and creativity shape a better future for Coventry?

If you want to know more (including the bit of Coventry history that is the reason why we have named our Citizens’ Assembly ‘Art for the People’), we’ve written a long-read blogpost explaining the ideas behind the project for the City of Culture website, which you can read here or you can delve into the Art for the People project web pages where we will also be posting more detail as the Assembly progresses.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the interest shown in this project so far and would like to say a huge thank you to every one of the Coventry residents who applied to be part of our Citizens’ Assembly.

We will post videos and blogs as soon as we can after every session of the Assembly so that you can follow its progress – and we hope that everyone in Coventry will join in the wider conversation about how our city does (or should) value and use its art, culture, creativity and imagination to shape a better future.

Visit the Art for the People web pages using the arrow buttons below:

Art for the People has been created by Talking Birds, with MutualGain and The Sortition Foundation and supported by Coventry City of Culture Trust, Arts Council England, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Coventry City Council.

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