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The City of Culture Trust is today launching its first major campaign since Coventry won the title UK City of Culture 2021.
The campaign - #HumansOfCov – will throw a spotlight onto the human rights of people across the city and beyond.
It will both highlight the everyday heroes in Coventry’s communities and the grassroots activism of the city, as well as opening a conversation about human rights and what they mean for a modern and diverse city in the 21st Century.
#HumansOfCov launches as world nations commemorate the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed on December 10, 1948, and will be honoured around the world.
To launch the campaign, a 14ft mobile, illuminated peace poem will tour to different parts of the city to open a discussion with communities and local people on what they perceive as human rights and where they fit into modern society.
The poem, Paper Peace – by Robert Montgomery – will be accompanied by activities to develop conversations and reads:
“A hundred years and the dream never ends. All our tomorrows are fragile. The peace builders are heroes of kindness. Peace is a dream of a shared human soul that we build every day with forgiveness and kindness and hope.”
As well as developing a programme of its own in the city over the next 12 months, Coventry City of Culture Trust has also become a commissioning partner with a group of theatres in London on a project called Fly The Flag, where a new flag has been created to celebrate Human Rights.
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director for Coventry City of Culture Trust, said the city was perfectly placed to be at the centre of this important conversation.
She said: “The Declaration of Human Rights was momentous for citizens and nations around the world. It gave us freedoms never imagined and opportunities which previously were only for the few.
“Throughout its history, Coventry has always pioneered activism, fighting for workers’ rights, promoting equality, tackling racism, making the case for arts in education, welcoming new communities, finding solutions for poverty and health inequalities.
“Coventry has always been a city of migrants and #HumansOfCov will help us talk to our citizens to understand who they are, what they hold most dear and the challenges and barriers that they face in their everyday lives.
“We want to throw a spotlight on the everyday stories of our people and communities, to show their heroic actions and pioneering spirit.
“We will ask the questions: Why Coventry? Why are you living here? Working here? Studying here? Bringing up families here? Why are you escaping to Coventry?
“We are known as a sanctuary, a place of welcome, a safe home and a city that promotes peace. This is a great opportunity to explore our place in this global conversation.”
The Peace Poem has been created by Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) and has been supported by Arts Council England and the National Lottery.
In each destination, it will gather stories, pledges and poems of peace for a National Peace Archive.
Chenine added: “#HumansOfCov is our response to the 70th anniversary of the declaration of Human Rights and will be the start of a year-long campaign, which will see us work across our communities and with a range of artists as we develop our plans for 2021 and beyond."
Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, feels that #HumansOfCov is a fitting first campaign for the City of Culture team.
He said: “Coventry has an international reputation as a city of peace and reconciliation and throughout its history has been called home by a wide and diverse mix of people.
“The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a significant milestone as this document underpins all international human rights law and inspires us to continue to work to ensure all people can gain freedom, equality and dignity.
“I’m sure the mobile, illuminated peace poem touring the city will prove to be thought-provoking and start discussions about issues that many of us take for granted.”
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