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Turner Prize and The Specials' Terry Hall head for Coventry

Coventry will host the Turner Prize, a south Asian film festival and a music festival put together by the Specials’ Terry Hall during its city of culture year.

The year is being billed as a “glimmer of hope” for the UK’s arts sector amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The first 15 events for the year-long programme were unveiled by Chenine Bhathena, the creative director for culture year, who said it could be an example of how to put on Covid-safe arts events.

“Hopefully, what we’re doing is creating a glimmer of hope for 2021 and showing that we can still do live events, we can still put on a great show in this new world that we’re living in,” she said.

The Turner prize 2021 will be held at the Herbert art gallery and museum in the city with a judging panel announcing the winner on 1 December 2021.

Terry Hall will host a three-day live music event with a lineup made of local and international talent. Coventry’s city of culture year will open with Coventry Moves, which will be created by Nigel Jamieson, the man behind the opening and closing events for the Commonwealth Games, and Justine Themen, the deputy artistic director of the Belgrade theatre Coventry.

The UK Asian Film Festival will be hosted at the Belgrade, and the Royal Shakespeare Company will present a commission called Faith, which is described as “a 24-hour invitation to find out what keeps each of us going in tough times”. The rest of the events will be announced in January.

Bhathena said events such as Faith were key to Coventry’s offering, which is based on projects that engage the local community and address some of the city’s biggest challenges, including mental health, homelessness and the integration of new communities.

“To just put on a shiny glitzy kind of festival wouldn’t really be the right thing right now,” she said. “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.”

Coventry’s city of culture year was moved back from its initial January 2021 launch date to May 2021 because of the Covid-19 crisis. Bhathena said the events all have Covid-19 contingency plans.

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