The origins of the phrase, to be sent to Coventry, seem to have originated in the seventeenth century when Cromwell was purported to have sent Royalist soldiers to be imprisoned in Coventry around 1648. At the time, Coventry was a parliamentary supporter and it is likely that the hapless Cavaliers would have had a miserable time.
In a contemporary sense, the phrase has been used to describe an event when a person or group was isolated or ostracised by their peers, for whatever reason. Rather like a grown-up’s version of the “naughty step”.
From an economic viewpoint, Coventry has struggled to shed its reputation as a place in decline, which is why the announcement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last week was such good news. In competition with cities across the UK Coventry will host the title of UK City of Culture 2021.
The decision was made after an independent panel of culture experts, chaired by television producer and screenwriter Phil Redmond, visited each of the five candidate cities before recommending Coventry as the winner. The bid impressed the judges with its focus on youth, diversity and the scale of impact not only in Coventry but across the UK.
Coventry will take the title from Hull 2017, which has used City of Culture to transform its reputation as a destination for arts and culture both at home and abroad.
It is estimated that Hull’s local economy has received a £60 million boost in 2017 and the city has been praised for how it has engaged residents in the cultural programme. Nine out of 10 residents have attended, or taken part, in a City of Culture event and since it was awarded the title in 2013 it has received more than £3 billion of investment.
John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said:
I would like to congratulate Coventry on winning UK City of Culture 2021. The title is an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage.
We received excellent bids from all the cities and I would like to thank them for their efforts.
Coventry now has three years to prepare its year-long programme of activity for 2021. As part of its status as UK City of Culture 2012, Coventry will be eligible for a £3 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Time also for Coventry to inject the phrase “sent to Coventry” with new and positive meaning…
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