There’s hope for the arts as Coventry is announced to host the Turner Prize in 2021

Creative Director calls bid a 'glimmer of hope' for the arts sector

Coventry, Turner Prize hosts
(Image credit: Alamy)

Amidst the turmoil that the Covid-19 crisis has caused to the UK arts sector, the news that Coventry will host the Turner Prize in 2021 comes as a cause of celebration to many.

And the good news doesn’t stop there as during the it’s city of culture year, Coventry will also host a south Asian film festival and a music festival curated by the Specials’ Terry Hall, alongside a number of other events.

Creative Director for Coventry’s city of culture year Chenine Bhathena has said that hopefully they are “showing that we can still do live events, we can still put on a great show in this new world we’re living in.”

At a digital launch event, she told attendees, “We know our programme will create a year of extraordinary experiences” and added that the plans were “rooted in the people of the city.”

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The pandemic has meant that the year-long programme’s start has had to be postponed. It is now set to begin in May 2021, opening with Coventry Moves. This will be created by Nigel Jamieson, the man behind the opening and closing events for the Commonwealth Games, as well as Justine Themen, the deputy artistic director of the Belgrade theatre Coventry.

Where will the Turner Prize 2021 be hosted?

Next year’s Turner Prize is due to be held at the Herbert art gallery and museum in Coventry. The judging panel has already been announced. It will include actor Russell Tovey and director of the Chisenhale gallery, Zoe Whitley.

The exhibition of the Turner Prize’s shortlisted artists will run from 29 September 2021 to 12 January 2022. The winner will then be announced on 1 December.

The Turner Prize chair Alex Farquharson has been reported as stating he was “delighted” it would be held in Coventry. This winning bid also marks the first time in the prize’s history that it will be hosted in the Midlands.

What else will the city of culture year offer?

The Turner Prize is only one of a number of events in Coventry’s city of culture year.The Specials’ Terry Hall is set to host a three-day live music event. This will features a lineup of both local and international talent.

Coventry, City of Culture, Turner Prize

The UK Asian Film Festival will then be hosted at the Belgrade. And the Royal Shakespeare Company will present a commission called Faith. Bhathena has been reported as stating that events like Faith were key, as “We need to face up to some of that stuff and talk about British identity, and what’s going on in our towns and cities, and the role that culture plays in changing some of that.”

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With a focus on some of the city’s biggest challenges, Coventry’s offering looks set to be truly thought-provoking.

What safety measures are in place?

After the push-back on the initial launch date, Bhathena has reportedly said the events all have Covid-19 contingency plans, in case of the pandemic worsening and that they were looking forward to welcoming visitors to Coventry in a “safe, socially distanced way.”

The full programme of Coventry's city of culture year events is due to be announced in January.