Attractions industry news

18 Feb 2021

Coventry's former IKEA building slated to become arts and cultural centre of international importance

Coventry, the UK City of Culture in 2021, wants to seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an arts hub to establish the city as an international destination for culture.

Coventry City Council (CCC) has revealed multi-million pound plans to transform the IKEA building in the city into a visitor attraction showcasing some of the UK's greatest works of art.

The new national Collections Centre would be created through a partnership between CCC, Arts Council England's Arts Council Collection, Culture Coventry Trust and Coventry University, in collaboration with the Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Attractions Management has learned that discussions have been ongoing for some months between the parties.

The plans would see CCC buy and convert the building to create a multi-purpose collections and cultural facility, contributing to a lasting physical, economic and cultural legacy from Coventry's tenure as City of Culture.

As part of the plans, Arts Council England would relocate the national Arts Council Collection to Coventry.

The site would then become a busy new hub for art which would service the rest of the country with exhibition loans.

Culture Coventry Trust, which runs the existing Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and the Coventry Transport Museum, would also take space to relocate some of the city’s collections not on display in the museums, improving public access to more of Coventry’s collections.

Councillor David Welsh, CCC's cabinet member for culture and the arts, said: “This exciting and amazing proposal is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something Coventry people can be rightly proud of, as well as a national and international centre of excellence that will be a lasting legacy from our year as UK City of Culture.

“A national Collections Centre would bring together the foremost national arts and cultural partners and their respective national collections alongside the city’s collections, to create a consolidated national base that would be at the heart of Coventry city centre.

“This would also free-up and create exciting opportunities for the much-loved Whitefriars Monastery, that has been closed to the public for too long, while our local teams would benefit from working alongside a national collection management team.”

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England said: “The project would result in a major landmark collection centre in Coventry.

“The new facility would ensure that we not only position our current collection securely in the heart of this country but also enable work with partners to continue supporting living artists, create increased opportunities for students to research our unique collection and, most important, ensure these works reach more people in more places around the country.

“The partnership in the new centre also would be a fitting way to mark Coventry’s City of Culture legacy. We look forward to working with Coventry City Council and other partners to try to achieve this.”

Coventry City Councillors will later this month (February 2021) hold a vote on whether to take the plans to the next stage of planning.

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