Report by Callum Watkinson
Coventry's tenure as the UK's City of Culture officially got underway today (5 June) with a day-long opening ceremony in the city's streets.
Events as part of "Coventry Moves" were not advertised in too much detail in advance, because directors wanted to avoid attracting crowds.
Innovation, People Power, Sustainability, Resilience, Social Justice, and Youthfulness were the six personified energies of the events. All themes that have a new relevance as the city emerges from the pandemic.
One of the performers was Daniel Lismore, an artist who grew up in the city. He says "Coventry's known for Rolls Royce, Jaguar, jet engines, the bicycle."
Part of his glamorous outfit incorporated that famous innovation pioneered in Coventry: "I have a bike spoke above me, inspiration - and it's known for innovation with all the factories and I guess that's what I was representing today but it's not just the technology but the mentality as well."
Without crowds, the show's directors had to think of different ways to tell this city's stories - with pop up performances delighting those who happened to be passing.
Justine Themen, Coventry City of Culture Cultural Director, said it was "very bizarre" planning an event where "you're not trying to attract audiences." However, she says it allowed them a greater sense of creative freedom to "create something that's fairly unique."
When Coventry won the bid in 2018 nobody had heard of coronavirus, so the city has designed an entire year of cultural events in which the pandemic is dealth with - but not dominant.