Artist Invitation: The Show Windows: Reflections

For Coventry 2021: City of Culture by Coventry BID


Coventry City Centre is a great place to live, work and play. For 2021, Coventry Business Improvement District (BID) with Historic England are launching a new creative strand to their city centre delivery for local businesses, shops, people and visitors. Part of Coventry City of Culture 2021 programme is The Show Windows: Reflections, a project where artists and architects are exhibiting in shop windows around the city centre. This is part of the programme being funded by Historic England to highlight and celebrate the post-war architecture of Coventry City Centre.

Coventry’s post-war heritage tells a story of hope, reconciliation and reinvention. Following the devastation of the Second World War, Coventry quickly established itself at the forefront of rebuilding, working with international architects and artists to rebuild and reshape the city with a new vision for a new world. Pioneering architecture and urban planning had a ripple effect that reached across the country and the continent and continues to define Coventry’s identity today.

Through a series of commissions, The Show Windows: Reflections will spotlight and celebrate Coventry’s pioneering post-war heritage; bringing creatives, communities and collections together in the city centre. These artistic interventions will look afresh at how Coventry’s post-war heritage shapes our lives and reflect our hopes for the future.

As part of the project we are working with 3 local groups to curate artworks from 3 national art collections to be exhibited in City Arcade. These 3 month-long exhibitions will happen in November 2021, January 2022 & March 2022.

We, Coventry 2021 Trust, Coventry BID, Historic England and Quiet Down There, are inviting you – the great artists of Coventry and Warwickshire – to get involved.


Are you a socially-engaged artist[1] local to or associated with Coventry with a current CV Postcode?  

We are looking for 3 socially engaged artists to work alongside our exhibitions by public art collections to promote, animate, celebrate or deepen audience engagement around the shop window exhibitions.  Each collection has been given a theme as a starting point to select artworks, these themes are Coventry in The World (Government Art Collection), Being Human (British Museum) and Amazing Women (Crafts Council).

In September 2021 Quiet Down There CIC (QDT) will start working with the community groups to engage with the collections and select the works to be exhibited.  These sessions will take the post-war heritage of Coventry and the City Arcade as a framework for selecting works that help tell the stories of Coventry’s past, present and future. 

The 3 exhibitions will be in November 2021 (Government Art Collection), January 2022 (British Museum) and  March 2022 (Crafts Council Collection). As the commissioned artists you would be expected to create another layer of engagement in the existing project working with the themes, stories and artworks in each exhibition. This could be a walking tour, writing group, creative workshop or other event. It could happen once or twice or be something that happens across the month. QDT will work with the 3 commissioned artists to produce content that is Covid safe, adhering to social distancing, and can translate digitally in case of changes in restrictions. The current UK government guidelines can be found at but this will be built into the content development.

3 artists will each receive £1500 ex VAT to cover fees and materials.


midday Monday 13 Sep – Deadline for proposal submission

Friday 17 Sep – On-line Clarification Meeting (if necessary)

W/C 20th Sep – Selected artists notified & announced

W/C 27th Sep – Initial meeting with The Show Windows: Reflections (Government Art Collection) artist

W/C 4th Oct – Agree draft activity with The Show Windows: Reflections (Government Art Collection) artist

1st – 30th Nov – The Show Windows: Reflections (Government Art Collection) activity period

W/C 15th Nov – Initial meeting with artist Show Windows: Reflections (British Museum)

W/C 6th Dec – Agree draft activity with artist The Show Windows: Reflections (British Museum)

3rd – 31st Jan – The Show Windows: Reflections (British Museum) activity period

W/C 24th Jan- Initial meeting with The Show Windows: Reflections (Crafts Council) artist

W/C 7th Feb – Agree draft activity with The Show Windows: Reflections (Crafts Council) artist

1st-31st March – The Show Windows: Reflections (Crafts Council) activity period


Expressions of Interest should be submitted through googleforms and include

Each applicant is also asked to fill out an equalities monitoring form.

Details of alternative ways of submitting an expression of interest are included on the googleform.

Deadline 10am Monday 13th September 2021

For further enquiries please contact Apply via this googleform.

As part of this process, please share with HR and Team Development any support and access requirements. We will provide assistance during the application and interview phase, as required.

Please note: If a clarification meeting is required, this is likely to take place online via Zoom. We will work with you to ensure any inclusion requirements are met. If you require additional assistance during any stage of this process, including interview, please let us know.

Coventry BID is committed to equal opportunities and will treat all applications fairly based on written submissions, please complete the anonymous equal opportunities form available here.

Equal Opportunities form can be downloaded here.


The commissioned artists will be responding to the exhibition as it’s evolving and working closely with Quiet Down There producers to ensure any activity is high quality, accessible and achievable within changeable parameters.  We do not expect the artists to work directly with the curating community groups or the art collections but there may be scope for this if it’s integral to the proposed activity. 

The exhibitions will be made up of loaned artworks in shop windows, vinyl pieces, interpretation and digital content provided by Smartify.  Any activity would be marketed by Coventry BID, other City of Culture partners and Historic England.  As Historic England are a major partner, we would like you to think about the historical context of the city arcade and the people who have worked and shopped there over the years. It will also be important to think about how these commissions can encourage new engagement with Coventry’s post-war heritage. Following the war, the use of new materials and technology, and the dynamic forms of the new buildings, reflected an incredible spirit of post-war optimism as the city’s destruction was seen as an opportunity for reinvention. Embedded into post-war planning was a careful consideration of how the places we inhabit inform our lives. The inclusion of communal pedestrian spaces and striking public art encapsulated the hope felt amongst Coventry’s people as they looked to the future and what it could bring. 

We are not expecting artists to make an artwork as there will be limited physical space around the exhibition to display additional artworks.  These commissions aim to engage people beyond the core participants, bring people into the exhibition and allow them to engage with the works presented and the process by which they have been chosen.      

Please specify in your expression of interest your initial thoughts about groups to engage, be that existing project partners, shop owners, other groups in the city or the general public.


The Selection panel will include:

Charlie Levine, Curator, The Show Windows

Lucy Jefferies, Director, Quiet Down There

Emily Atkinson, Project Manager, Quiet Down There

Tamsin Silvey, Historic England Cultural Programme Curator

Cara Pickering, Visual Arts Programme Producer, Coventry 2021

Lyndsay Smith, Hospitality & Retail Manager, Coventry BID


We ask that the artist ensure that the project aligns with Access requirements, where disability access provision is integral to all planning and delivery, removing or minimizing barriers to engagement for not just the public but all artists, creatives and teams engaged. We are able to offer advice and guidance if needed.


Coventry Business Improvement District (BID) is a partnership between the businesses located within the ring road of Coventry city centre. The aim of the BID is to promote, develop and boost the city centre to make it a great place to work and visit.


Our ambition is that The Show Windows project builds new partnerships with businesses and stakeholders from Coventry, promoting new ways of working putting the work of artists directly in the public eye to reach a broad range of new audiences. The Show Windows will be a high profile and impactful part of the 2021/22 programme. Changing public perceptions of the city and influencing public opinion on the value of artists’ work, the project aims to attract audiences from the city as well as visitors from beyond. It should be inclusive and engage a broad range of groups and audiences; we want to develop a project that will speak across cultures and generations. The Show Window name is taken from Wizard of Oz author L Frank Baum’s book entitled The Art of Decorating Dry Goods Windows and Interiors, which was published the same year as the first famous Oz book, 1900. The link to Baum also encapsulates the idea that these windows are to be portals to other worlds, to inspire imagination, adventure and hope.


Coventry City of Culture Trust was set up in 2015 to bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021. Now that we have been successful in securing the prestigious title, we are working to build a cultural programme that reflects Coventry, its people and it’s ambitions for the future. We are a diverse, modern city which is re-imagining the role culture can play in bringing people together. Coventry is a city of welcome, a city of activists and pioneers, a city of peace and reconciliation, a city of innovation and invention, a City of Culture. The Trust is committed to: – Welcoming 2.5m additional visitors to Coventry in 2021 – 80% of the city’s residents experiencing at least three events in 2021 – Increasing audience attendance from under-represented communities by 20% – Activating more than 16,000 volunteers and participants – Making long-lasting, tangible social change in Coventry – Transforming who holds the power to create and curate in the city – Starting a wave of cultural investment across the region The programme for the year will feature large scale mass participation spectacle and intimate moments of wonder. music, dance, theatre and poetry as well as many more celebratory cultural and heritage experiences in every ward of the city. The programme will touch on the city’s rich history, heritage and diverse communities whilst taking a bold, future-facing approach, exploring narratives about the most pressing issues for our citizens, country and planet in the years to come.


Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.


Quiet Down There (QDT) is a Community Interest Company that specialises in amplifying the everyday. We believe that culture is everywhere and everyone creates culture in their own way.  We strive to create and support environments where individuals, artists, communities and organisations can articulate and develop their own culture – making the invisible visible. We have a core set of methodologies that we have developed which are delivered online, in print and face to face, including project zines, short, fun film tutorials and free lunches. QDT has two distinct programmes, our partnership programme where we work with organisations interested in developing their participatory practice and most recently, QDT Laundrette; a programme of projects we have created, developed and delivered in the communities we live in- all part of our research into a community laundrette.

[1] to include all arts including painting, sculpture, design, illustration, media, fashion, sound, poetry, film, performance etc.