I have covered more global themes on this blog but now something local. Coventry, where I live, has been putting on events as part of its UK City of Culture status. There is very little extra money associated with becoming a city of culture but it is a good boost for community arts around the city and provides a focus for doing the city up. The programme has been delayed by COVID but you can see more here. Coventry UK city of culture 2021: https://coventry2021.co.uk
The University of Warwick, where I work, is half in Coventry and half in Warwick. It has traditionally been keener about the Warwick link probably because it taps into Shakespeare and heritage. However, the university, along of course with the city centre Coventry University, has been very supportive of the City of Culture and has sponsored various projects.
University of Warwick support for city of culture https://warwick.ac.uk/about/cityofculture/
The project I have been involved in has been about city twinning. We carried out research using archives, interviews with people who had exchanged visits and with people who had come to live in Coventry. We created a web site as a resource on twinning and we worked with local artist, Gemma Foy, to produce a short animation.
Our web site https://warwick.ac.uk/coventrytwinning
The project focused on Coventry and the story is distinctive. Twinning was a response to the destruction carried out in the second world war (1939-1945) and to a subsequent desire for Coventry to be a city of peace and reconciliation. In recent years Coventry has gone on to become an international city and some of our twinned city links reflect the diverse communities we have in our city.
Through the project we came to see how exchange can create enduring links between people and places even when national politics become fractured.
So what is the recurring value of twinning? We come back to a theme which was raised by everyone to whom we spoke– that of broadening horizons. To us as educationalists this is a powerful message as education aims not only to provide young people with skills and knowledge but a sense of curiosity as to how others live. The history of twinning gives us powerful insight into how we can see through other eyes and learn that we are all fundamentally similar when it comes to our hopes and anxieties, even if we differ according to accident of birth and upbringing.
We were funded by a small grant from the university’s City of Culture fund and from Coventry Creates, a joint Coventry and Warwick university initiative to support the City of Culture. We acknowledge the support of the Coventry Association for International Friendship.
We are talking about the work online Thursday 24 June, at 12.00 UK time.