Coventry wins City of Culture 2021 – celebrate working class culture and fight for decent funding  

Coventry wins City of Culture 2021 – celebrate working class culture and fight for decent funding  

Thursday evening brought news that Coventry has been named the City of Culture 2021.

Coventry Socialist Party welcomes the city’s victory and shares with many the hope that this will bring a much needed boost to the city following year after year of austerity cuts.

We believe it is a great chance to celebrate Coventry’s rich history of working class culture and struggle. From the English Civil War to the Poll Tax, Coventry has been a stronghold of resistance. The phrase “sent to Coventry” comes from the treatment Royalist army prisoner got when imprisoned in Coventry, a stronghold of the Parliamentarian forces – who hoisted their banner on what is now Banner Lane and marched down Cromwell Lane to smash the Royalists!
During both World Wars, women workers in Coventry organised in trade unions to fight for better pay and conditions. Fighting workers also ensured decent jobs in Coventry’s factories, making this the richest working class city in the country.
In the 1980s thousands of Coventry people refused to pay the Poll Tax, which was part of the movement that brought down Thatcher. They also elected Dave Nellist, a “Militant” Labour MP, who said in response to the announcement “Hopefully, at least 50% of events can be designed, developed and grown within the city itself.”

Coventry will be receiving increased funding after this announcement – the council should work out a plan for how this can be used to reopen libraries and other facilities that have closed, closures that limit access to culture and opportunities for Coventry people.

Lobby the Council Cabinet on Tuesday!

Lobby the Council Cabinet on Tuesday!

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City of Culture – or City of Cuts?

Coventry City Council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 30th August to approve the beginning of the consultation that will see further cuts and closures to the tune of £4 million to libraries, the youth service and children’s centres.

Under the programme called “Connecting Communities” the plans from the Labour Council will further reduce vital public services in our city hitting ordinary people the hardest. Read this report for what we think the Council should be doing instead of passing on the Tory cuts to the people of Coventry.

The campaign group Save Coventry Libraries have called a lobby of the Cabinet meeting. The lobby will begin at 1pm, outside the Council House, Earl Street.

Herbert Art Gallery and Belgrade Theatre facing cuts

Herbert Art Gallery and Belgrade Theatre facing cuts

The Herbert faces closure due to austerity cuts

The Herbert faces closure due to austerity cuts

Coventry Council has taken aim at funding for the Herbert Art Gallery and the Belgrade Theatre in its next round of austerity measures, with £250K of cuts planned for each of them.

Just a few months ago staff at the Herbert Art Gallery, run by Culture Coventry, were threatened with the sack unless they agreed to new terms and conditions for their work, including huge pay cuts. Now their jobs are on the line due to council cuts – and the future of the Herbert is at risk as well, as the cuts could lead to its closure.

The Belgrade has already warned that if its funding is cut it may be unable to continue supporting local grassroots productions, negatively impacting theatre groups in the city.

Belgrade-Theatre-landscape

For a city that is bidding to be “City of Culture”, the council seem set on attacking the “culture” we have. Libraries, theatres and galleries face closure, along with many other services across the city. Coventry has a wealth of culture and history that we can be proud of – from poets like Philip Larkin to bands like The Specials, our city has created more than our fair share of working class talent. Slashing funding to theatres and galleries will stifle that spark of creativity.