Young people in Coventry are joining forces with their global peers to help make their cities better places for them to live, work and play.

Coventry City of Culture Trust’s Youthful Cities programme is partnering young people in Coventry with people from four cities - Beirut (Lebanon), Bogotá (Colombia), Detroit (United States of America) and Nairobi (Kenya).

The programme is being produced in partnership with the British Council and Youthful Cities to enable 18 to 25-year-olds to creatively respond to important, urgent and youth-focused issues in their cities, encouraging more active participation in civic matters.

The four project teams are focused on different art forms spanning music, poetry and spoken word, street art and digital storytelling. They are all being supported by international and Coventry-based arts organisations to help build a programme of creative development that leads to new work that will be featured across the City of Culture Programme.

The Coventry x Beirut Youthful Cities Programme Team is focussing on poetry and spoken word and is being led by Be a Change Everywhere (BACE), founded by poet John Bernard in Coventry, and Rusted Radishes of Literary and Art Journal in Beirut.

It includes 12 writers and artists – six from Coventry and six from Beirut – who are writing a new creative piece ‘Transnational Lag Express’ building on the themes of their exchange that will be premiered at the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival 23-26 September.

The Coventry x Detroit Youthful Cities Programme Team is being led by Media Mania (Coventry) and Mosaic Youth Theatre (Detroit) and is focussed on music.

It is a team of 10 young songwriters and musicians – five from Coventry and five from Detroit – who are working towards the creation of a collaborative album which is set to be presented as part of the CVX Weekend, a pioneering programme of arts activism curated by young people in February 2022.

The Coventry x Nairobi project is a Digital Storytelling Lab, which is a unique partnership between Coventry City of Culture Trust, British Council, The Space and BBC R&D.

The project team of 12 young creatives include filmmakers, digital artists, writers, musicians and changemakers from Coventry and Nairobi who are developing bold new digital stories that will reveal how a new generation of storytellers can inspire change within their cities.

New work from the Digital Storytelling Lab will use technology from BBC MakerBox and will be premiered and distributed via BBC Taster in Spring 2022.

The Coventry x Bogotá team is being led by Graffwerk and Jay McKeown (Coventry), and Vertigo Graffiti (Bogotá).

The project team, of 12 street artists and creatives, are working towards the creation of a new wall in FarGo village in September and a new wall in Bogotá in October.

Alexandra Talbott, Programme Manager, International and Youthfulness, Coventry City of Culture said: “Young people are more connected than ever and the threads and synergies between these international projects harness and build on that to establish new international relationships - all of which have creativity at their heart. It’s a privilege to support these young creative teams to use their skill and ingenuity to share experiences, make new work and start vital conversations about the world we’re all a part of and the future they want to create.”

Ellen Berry, the British Council’s Director for England, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Coventry City of Culture on the Youthful Cities programme, helping amplify young people’s voices both in Coventry and across the world, at an important moment in time.

“This project supports our wider work in connecting young people to the UK for skills, networks and ideas, and is a great opportunity to make positive change through art, creativity, and technology. We look forward to seeing each of the projects develop, supporting Coventry’s international ambitions and showcasing the city on a global stage.”

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