Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture has pushed its start date until May 2021, with organisers pledging to reimagine the programme in response to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis.
The city had been due to begin its tenure as UK City of Culture at the start of 2021, but will now kick off its programme from May.
Events will then take place over the following 12 months.
The Coventry City of Culture Trust confirmed the new dates and said it wished to demonstrate its commitment to staging the event and to the long-term benefits it will offer the region.
The trust had previously promised to refocus its resources to help support artists and the creative sector during the Covid-19 crisis, including setting up a resilience fund.
A statement released on July 3 said the programme would "play a key role in supporting the culture sector through the challenging period ahead" and showcase the region’s arts to the UK.
It said the line-up would include major artistic events, world premieres and new commissions, with the amended start date ensuring that the "artistic, social and economic vision of the programme can be reimagined in response to challenges facing the country".
The trust has also committed to working with at least 120 community-led organisations in Coventry as part of the project, well as with local, regional and national arts organisations.
Martin Sutherland, chief executive of Coventry 2021, said: "As the sector and the city continues to map its road to recovery, we hope that today’s announcement can provide a bedrock on which many other positive decisions can be made. Change can come when we invest in culture.
"Today’s announcement reaffirms our commitment to delivering a year with impact, but it will also be a chance to celebrate for the city and the UK at a time when it has never been more important to do so.”
In addition to the new dates, the first flagship event has also been announced. Directors Nigel Jamieson, who worked on the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony in 2000, and Justine Theman, who is co-artistic director of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, will together create a city-wide event which will be central to the programme.
It will involve thousands of local residents to "explore the values at the heart of the city, and their hopes for the future".
Further details of the programme will be announced later this year.
Chenine Bhathena, Coventry 2021’s creative director, added: "Coventry 2021 is about the people of Coventry and their stories. We will reflect and address the issues that matter to all of us. At this time of uncertainty, our determination to create connections, memories and commit to making a change is unwavering and we are determined to create an amazing year."