What used to be the head office of a Coventry newspaper is to be transformed into a set for dance and theatre – retelling the city’s stories of the past 60 years – before it finally closes for redevelopment.
The former Coventry Evening Telegraph Building, which has been everything from a pop-up art exhibition to a concert venue in recent months following the newspaper’s move to new offices elsewhere in the city, is being turned into a boutique hotel by developers CDP. Work is planned to start later this year after CDP donated the space for arts and cultural events.
But before the final page of this section of the building’s history is turned, it will stage a unique mini festival entitled “Read All About It!” which will blend the city’s past with its future as UK City of Culture in 2021.
In “City Final”, nine groups led by the Belgrade Theatre’s pioneering Community and Education department, will turn the famous building into a stage to tell a range of stories covered by the paper – including everything from the miners’ strike through to refugees settling in Coventry.
It will also delve into the technological advances that have changed the way news is reported and consumed.
The second part of the festival is “Retold”, produced by Mercurial Dance, and will be an interactive, cabaret-style show based on Coventry Telegraph readers’ memories.
The event is a Coventry City of Culture Trust Great Place Project with support from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery, Coventry University, University of Warwick, Coventry City Council and Coventry Business Improvement District.
Jacqui Ibbotson, Great Place Project Manager at the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The Coventry Evening Telegraph Building is an iconic location in the city and has told Coventry’s stories over many decades. Read All About It! is a way of looking back at the recent history of the city through theatre and dance and taking inspiration from those stories produced by the newspaper.
“It promises to an interesting and inspiring few days and not only does it look back at the city’s history, it’s a chance to look forward to what this building will become by the time we reach 2021 and also to experience the work of a group of young artists, performers and producers. Coventry’s youth and diversity was a key element in us landing UK City of Culture and this event will be the perfect showcase for that.
“Using the Coventry Evening Telegraph Building’s space to retell the stories in this way is an exciting concept as we look ahead to 2021 – as is the collaboration between cultural organisations in the city,” said Jacqui.
Read All About It! runs from Tuesday, July 10 to Saturday, July 14 and tickets are available via www.belgrade.co.uk or from the box office on 024 7655 3055.