Funding news: Our ambitious plan to restore, renew and revitalise Coventry

Grapevine is pleased to announce new funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to help Coventry communities process the Coronavirus crisis and contribute to a major plan to ‘reform the norm’.

The successful bid to the Emerging Futures Fund sees £43,653 from players of the National Lottery coming to the city.

The tools of creativity laid out on a desk
Reform the Norm begins with the ‘Zoom Bird’ project – a creative collection of people’s pandemic stories. Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

We are spearheading the partnership work amongst Coventry’s most impacted communities alongside Coventry’s City of Culture Caring City Team, City of Culture Trust, Central England Law Centre, Positive Youth Foundation and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.

The ‘Coventry collective’ complements 51 other community organisations across the UK who are tapping into over £2 million of grants in a combined nationwide effort to “build on and amplify the creativity and compassion seen in communities and civil society during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This isn’t about a reactive response to an emergency. It is about emerging from the emergency to begin a process of regeneration. The process of turning people’s experiences from this time into the power to change our city for good is called ‘Reform the Norm’ (RTN).

An ATM screen says out of service due to social distancing
Turning COVID-19 experiences into power to change Coventry for good. Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The RTN project will build the capacity of its participants to shape their experiences to shape the future – building a movement of allies who carry these stories into their communities and workplaces, sharing their platforms with the storytellers.

Here’s what to expect

Caroline Horton is an Olivier Award nominee for her theatre work, Tracks. She has written for BBC Radio 4. Caroline develops stories from diverse communities to create impact. She is able to develop the stories of others into large-scale pieces for theatre, radio and screen. She is responsible for creating ‘Zoom Bird’.

Our call out for communities’ Zoom Bird stories, alongside Caroline and the City of Culture Trust, closes today with successful applicants contacted by Wednesday 7 October. The process will be:

  1. A group of underrepresented or unheard people will develop their own pandemic stories – perhaps as a podcast, an animation, blogs, articles or film series. These stories will be shared live at an ‘RTN Gathering’ and included in the Story of Us.
  2. The Story of Us will be a book of these stories, shared digitally at first then printed with illustrations. The book will be a tool to lobby for change, a resource for future policies and an account of these times where change is possible and right.
  3. The RTN Gathering will launch the Story of Us – for citizens, artists, policy makers and community organisers to commit to supporting the change these stories are calling for. Earlier participants will co-create this (likely) online event.. boosting empowerment, the redistribution of power and centralising voices previously pushed to the margins.
  4. Guests will pledge to become a ‘Zoom Bird’ – an ally who commits to advocate, lobby, share and draw on these stories across all communities and tactical recovery plans in the city post-pandemic.
A person writes on paper with a coffee mug on the table
Stories inspire change – what’s yours? Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Look out for references to Reform the Norm over the weeks and months ahead as we share news of our progress.

There’ll be many interesting moments and we look forward to sharing them as we work together to activate a better future for us all.

The National Lottery is the largest funder of community activity and the funding in Coventry will be spent from September 2020 over the next six months.

About the Emerging Futures Fund

The Emerging Futures Fund is a key part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to enabling civil society to be fit for the future – supporting organisations and the voluntary sector to create opportunities to help local communities thrive.

Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis. The National Lottery is playing a critical role in supporting people, projects and communities during these challenging times.