Coventry will Fly the Flag for Human Rights as part of a major national campaign, which will see a range of activity in the city next week (w/c June 24).

Coventry is a commissioning partner on Fly the Flag, a new commission by internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei who has created a new flag to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A full programme of events will take place between 24 June and 30 June with Coventry joining London and other countries around the world – including Mexico, USA, Iceland, Germany, Denmark and Greece – in marking the anniversary.

It will include the West Midlands premiere of Ai Weiwei’s new film, The Rest, which will be screened at Square One on 26 June and will feature an evening of discussion, music and food from around the world. It is being led by Screening Rights Festival with Amnesty International.

Other events to be staged during Fly the Flag week include:

  • The arrival of a giant shoebox in Broadgate between 25 June and 28 June.  A Mile in My Shoes is a pop up event led by Empathy Museum. Visitors can drop in at any time between 10.30am and 6pm to literally walk in someone else’s shoes, wearing headphones and listening to an audio story of that person. Stories range from a Syrian refugee to a sex worker and a war veteran to a neurosurgeon, celebrating our difference, from loss and grief to hope and love.
  • An Open Conversation Our Place at The Table will be exploring equalities and human rights on 25 June at Feeding Coventry. Human Rights and what it means to be human in the city of Coventry will be debated and discussed over food between 5pm and 8pm. The event is in partnership with Coventry Council, introduced by Councillor Ram Lakha the event will feature international and local human rights activists, artists and speakers from UN, UNESCO and TedX. 
  • Schools in the city will be taking part in a range of activities including making their own flags and learning about Human Rights. Templars Primary School, for example, will be coming together to create and fly a giant flag.

Fly the Flag week follows on from the Coventry City of Culture Trust launching the #HumansofCov campaign in December touring Paper Peace, an illuminated peace poem to different communities across the city.

#HumansOfCov throws a spotlight onto everyday heroes in Coventry, celebrating human rights, and encourages people to look after and nurture these rights at home and in their everyday lives. 

Recent activities have included:

  • Photo Archive Miners have captured photos and stories about local citizens displaying the variety of many different people living in Coventry and are shown on the #HumansofCov Instagram feed.
  • Talking Birds have supported 30 local writers to produce short written and filmed responses to the 30 Humans Rights articles, which will start to appear across the city.
  • Artists from Good Chance Theatre have been working with the Refugee and Migrant Centre helping people in new communities find their voice and encouraging them to share their stories.
  • Theatre Absolute have set up writers hubs in local communities, to find new writing talent, to share the authentic voice of Coventry and its people and communities. 
  • Maokwo are developing a new arts network for artists from BAME backgrounds to support and encourage diverse voices.  

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director at Coventry City of Culture Trust, said:

“As a city of peace and reconciliation, and with a world leading Centre for Peace Studies and a United Nations Association (UNA) branch at Coventry University, it is fitting that we show our hand when it comes to human rights.

“Coventry has always been a caring city, a city made of difference, and a city whose citizens stand up for the rights of their neighbours, from Lady Godiva and George Eliot through Mo Mowlam and Jerry Dammers.

“Throughout history the footprint our great citizens have left behind has been extraordinary, and as we look around the city today at the foodbanks the homeless projects, the youth programmes, we see everyday heroes in our communities still thinking about how to help improve the lives of others.

“At this time when the world is undergoing seismic change, there has never been a more important time for us to recognise who we are and what we stand for, and why we value being human.”

Ana Gillespie, Senior Producer at Coventry City of Culture Trust, said Coventry was the perfect place to Fly the Flag for Human Rights.

She said: “We are very proud to be part of this international campaign and to have been one of the leading partners in raising the awareness of Human Rights.

“Coventry has been a city of activists going back hundreds of years and that has continued right up to the present day and now, as much as ever, it is vital that people understand what their Human Rights are and that we celebrate our everyday heroes and grassroots activism.

“It will be wonderful to see Ai Weiwei’s flag, which features a footprint, flying in the city as a physical reminder of all of our rights as well as throwing a spotlight on to the many other activities and programmes our communities are leading.”

Fly the Flag is presented by Coventry City of Culture Trust with Fuel, Amnesty International, Donmar Warehouse, Human Rights Watch, Liberty, National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Tate Art Galleries and Farnham Maltings.

For more information on events taking place during the week, to get involved or to let the Coventry City of Culture Trust about how you are Flying the Flag for Human Rights go to www.coventry2021.co.uk/fly-the-flag

Pictured: Artist Ai Weiwei