Citizens’ Assembly on Arts, Culture & Creativity.

We wanted to find ways for Coventry people to have a say in how our city views, values and uses arts, culture and creativity, so we called (what we think is) the UK’s first Citizens’ Assembly on Arts and Culture.

Fifty residents were selected from across the city to explore the question: “How will arts, culture and creativity shape a better future for Coventry?”

Art for the People Citizens’ Assembly on Arts, Culture & Creativity, Coventry UK

The Assembly participants worked together over a period of six weeks. They listened to the varied opinions of expert witnesses, and they also listened to their peers – people they had not met before taking part in the Assembly. They debated together – discussing the issues, talking about change. They imagined a better future for our city and drew up, and voted on, a series of recommendations, which you can read online here, or download in PDF format here.

The recommendations made by the Citizens’ Assembly clearly sketch a better future for Coventry: one which is green in every sense and offers a democratic, regenerative, generous, equitable and collaborative life for all its citizens; where there is a real democracy of access to the arts as creator, participant and audience; a city that is a pleasant place to live – verdant, green, welcoming and future-facing; and where the arts are fully integrated into all communities.

What happens next?

The recommendations have been presented to Coventry’s Cultural Compact and some of the ideas have been incorporated into the city’s Cultural Strategy refresh. Talking Birds is now working with Assembly members, to create pilot projects that test out the recommendations in neighbourhoods across Coventry, and start the work of making the Citizens’ vision a reality.

Share what (& who) you know!

Coventry is a big and inventive city, full of brilliant people making fantastic things happen. We know that there will be people out there who are already working along similar lines to the ideas proposed here, and lots of enthusiastic people with time and energy who are interested in helping make things happen. Some we’ll know about, others we won’t.

If we can share what (and who) we know, and all work together – then we truly can start to shape a better future for Coventry. Whoever you are, we’d love to hear from you – please use the form below to send us a message.

You might be one of the people who are already working on something similar, or you might know about an existing project that we should connect to. You might have some time, energy or resources that you’d be willing to share in order to help get things off the ground. Or you might just want to thank the citizens who participated in the Assembly for putting together such an exciting vision for our city’s future!

Have a read of the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations, and imagine yourself living in the city they describe – how does it feel? We’d love to know what you think – use the form below to get in touch!

Further reading and watching

You can have a browse of the Citizens’ Assembly materials (including video submissions from our Expert Witnesses, pieces of reflective work by our Resident Artists, and some of the Assembly debates] by using these links:

Follow the Assembly | How a Citizens’ Assembly Works | Why hold a Citizens’ Assembly?.

There’s a lot of material to work through, but if you are interested in the process of an Assembly, as well as the question this particular Assembly grappled with, it makes for fascinating and thought-provoking reading and watching.

By way of background, there’s also a long read blogpost on the City of Culture website.

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, Coventry City Council and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

MutualGain is an organisation that exists to promote greater participation and active citizenship for the mutual benefit of all. They have several years experience of running participatory processes such as this one.

The Sortition Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in recruitment for these kinds of events, recruit and randomly selected people to take part in the event in a way that was broadly representative of the area’s