Belgrade Deputy Artistic Director Justine Themen will co-create a citywide celebration
Following this morning’s announcement that Coventry’s year as City of Culture will now run from May 2021 until May 2022 in light of the current challenges faced by the cultural sector, we’re delighted to announce that our Deputy Artistic Director and Co-Artistic Director for 2021 Justine Themen will co-lead one of the first major projects on the programme.
Together with world-renowned theatre and event director Nigel Jamieson, Justine will co-create a citywide celebration in 2021, collaborating with international artists and communities from across the city. This large-scale movement will unite young people, families, schools, faith organisations, choirs, sports clubs, community groups and more to explore the values at the heart of the city and their hopes for the future.
In order to create the event, residents will have the chance to take part in hundreds of workshops, learning skills in music, performance and dance and building structures across the city. The project will culminate in a spectacle on a scale the city has never seen before, which will tell a powerful and diverse story about the spirit and energy of Coventry, celebrating the voices of people from every ward in the city.
Justine Themen has lived and worked in Coventry since 2003, is a leading figure in the Coventry arts scene and played a major role in the success of our bid for City of Culture 2021. Her work focuses on diversifying the stories brought to the stage and reaching audiences that are typically less likely to engage with theatre and cultural programming, which has had a significant impact on the artistic vision for the Belgrade over the last six years. She has a strong track record for co-creating work with communities & young people and for promoting & directing the work of writers of colour.
“Exciting things happen when you collaborate with communities and invest trust, time and resource in them to create something extraordinary.”
Nigel Jamieson was part of the team that created the Sydney Olympic Opening Ceremony and has since directed Ceremonies and Events around the world for the Commonwealth Games, Pacific Games, World Expo and the Openings of the European Capital of Cultures in Liverpool and Aarhus, Denmark, where he directed the Opening for the 2017 European City of Culture.
Justine Themen said: “Exciting things happen when you collaborate with communities and invest trust, time and resource in them to create something extraordinary. It is not only where some of the most exciting work happens artistically, but also where real and lasting change can come about in the world that we live in. Coinciding with emerging from a global pandemic, Coventry City of Culture gives us a chance to lead the way in how we create work, whose stories we tell, what platforms we give them, and what impact those stories can have on the world around us. It will be a truly landmark moment to project the voices of our co-creators on a city-wide scale.”
Nigel Jamieson said: “Getting to know Coventry has been fascinating, and it has been deeply impressive to see the way the City of Culture Trust is seeking to engage the city in this great moment in Coventry’s history, seeking the widest and most diverse engagement of its people. Following the challenges of these recent dark months it is a particular important time to offer the world images of beauty, light, imagination and hope, featuring communities directly engaged in forging images of the future to which they aspire. Events such as these only come to a city once in a lifetime, and I hope as many people as possible will join us on what will be a thrilling journey and experience they will not forget.”
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry 2021, said: “Nigel Jamieson and Justine Themen are the perfect pairing to kick off our year in truly spectacular style. But they are only part of the team, and that’s where it gets really exciting. The event, which will be created over the coming months, will be truly made in Coventry.”