The former IKEA building in Coventry is set to play a role in the city’s year as UK City of Culture.
The building has been bought by Coventry City Council as part of ambitious plans to create a lasting legacy from the city’s year in the national and international spotlight.
Ambitious plans were announced in February this year for the building to become an arts and culture facility of national and international standing in the city.
But ahead of that work hopefully starting during 2022, Coventry City Council is keen to use the building during the UK City of Culture title year. The building will become the new base for the Coventry City of Culture Trust team, giving the Trust the space to come together in a single building as one team for the first time since the global pandemic, to support the delivery of the exciting UK City of Culture programme of events through to May 2022.
As well as basing themselves in the building, the Trust plans to use the space within the building for production and rehearsal space.
The potential to use parts of the building to host events and pop-up activities is also currently being explored by the Council – with Floor Six of the building being considered as a dedicated space for programmed rehearsals, performances and exhibitions across the year.
Coventry Music, which provides music lessons in schools and a number of groups in evenings for children and young people to rehearse and develop their musical skills, are also looking to use the building as a performance and workshop space.
Councillor David Welsh, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member whose portfolio covers arts and culture, is delighted with the interim use plans for the building. He said: “Our ambitious, longer-term plans for this iconic city centre building really caught the imagination of so many people when we announced the plans back in February.
“But until works start on delivering the bigger scheme, it is wonderful that we have been able to work with the Coventry City of Culture Trust to bring forward opportunities to activate the building for cultural and creative uses in our City of Culture year.
“The Council hopes to extend those opportunities further in the coming months, with local artists and organisations, once we have the building up and running again.”
It is planned that the former IKEA building will house some of the greatest works of art in the country, by becoming the home for the Arts Council Collection and the British Council Collection, alongside local collections managed by Culture Coventry Trust.
Since those plans were announced earlier this year, other organisations have approached the Council to be part of the development and talks are ongoing. It is hoped the building will be ready to take on its new role in 2023, following extensive design and construction works to convert the building for its new purpose.
The British Council and Arts Council England have been seeking long-term solutions for storing and operating their nationally significant loan collections. The Coventry IKEA building on Croft Road is considered their preferred option and both organisations are in on-going contract negotiations with Coventry City Council.