Coventry City of Culture Trust enters administration | Coventry

The trust responsible for overseeing heritage projects from Coventry’s year-long UK City of Culture celebrations has gone into administration.

It has struggled financially for several months and in October received a £1m loan from Coventry City Council after citing “short-term cash flow problems”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Trust said it had made the “incredibly difficult” decision to appoint administrators amid what it described as financial challenges.

“We know this news is devastating for many, especially team members and partners,” the statement said. “We also regret the impact this will have on the organizations and businesses involved.

“We are grateful for the support of partners, funders and the public, from the initial bidding stage until today. Without the support of these people, we would not be able to deliver the extraordinary year-long celebration of the City of Culture 2021.”

Coventry City of Culture ran in 2021 and 2022 after the planned start date was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

The trust had designed a three-year arts and culture legacies program to ensure a long-term benefit to the local community, including The Reel Store digital art gallery, which recently hosted an award-winning digital exhibition featuring the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The trust’s statement added: “We have been unable to find a solution to secure the future of the trust. However, we have continued to work closely with those who have committed legacy funding to try to protect these funds for the city and its cultural organisations.’

At the time of receiving the £1m loan from Coventry City Council last year, the trust’s chief executive, Martin Sutherland, said: “We are confident that we will raise the funds required to pay it off.”

David Welsh, cabinet member for arts and culture, said that despite the trust’s financial problems, the city would still receive long-term benefits from winning the title, the third UK city to do so since the contest has begun.

“As a city I think we are in a better place overall than we were before we were awarded the national title, which has to be positive, and we will continue on this journey of improvement with or without the trust,” the councilor said.

He pointed to a recent independent economic impact report which found that around £172.6 million had been invested in the city as a result of the UK City of Culture title.

Welsh added that the funding helped to restore and improve cultural assets such as St Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry Cathedral, Drapers Hall, Belgrade Theater and the Daimler Powerhouse.

Gary Ridley, Conservative leader of Coventry on the council, criticized the Labour-run body for approving the loan for the trust and said “the bailout [was] rushed without proper discussion or scrutiny.” He said he wanted to know what due diligence was.

A spokesman for the National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are sorry to hear the news about the trust in the city of Coventry.

“Our £3m funding has enabled Coventry 2021 to give its communities the opportunity to become greener and more environmentally conscious. We hope a way forward can be found for the trust and we look forward to working with the council and others to support the heritage that comes from Coventry’s cultural city.”

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