The bed department at a Midlands IKEA is set for some unexpected action this month (March).
The store – famous for its flat-pack furniture – is one of the venues providing a stage for Coventry’s Shop Front Festival that is taking place on March 23 and March 24.
It will stage three performances of Coventry Dreaming by renowned choreographer Nina Von Der Werth as part of the two-day pilot festival, part of the build-up programme for UK City of Culture 2021.
The festival, which is being produced by Theatre Absolute, will feature a range of theatre, dance, music and participation with visitors and will bring a mix of family fun and world-class culture to the city centre in one weekend.
As well as IKEA, a host of disused shopfronts will also provide a stage for the events while other venues and shops around the city centre – from gyms to cafes and from restaurants to newsagents – will become part of the set for the ambitious event.
The former Coventry Evening Telegraph building will also be turned into a stage for Mercurial Dance, who will perform Retold – a dance performance inspired by stories from the Coventry Telegraph.
The Shop Front Festival will offer a range of family activities too – such as a ‘real-life’ arcade, cartoon workshops and an improvised, live soap opera.
The festival has been supported by the Coventry City of Culture Trust via the Coventry Great Place Scheme, Coventry City Council, the Heart of England Community Foundation, Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), Backstage Trust and 29th May Trust.
Jacqui Ibbotson, Great Place Project Manager for the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “The Shop Front Festival is going to be a fantastic event for the city but is also of national importance.
“There is a huge conversation taking place about city centres and how they are much more than a place to shop, and must draw people in through culture.
“The Shop Front Festival is at the heart of that very conversation because it is using both empty units and current venues and is making the whole of the city centre a stage for arts, culture and fun.
“This year’s festival is a pilot but judging from the range of exhibits and events, it is going to be hugely popular.”
Julia Negus, Co-Producer Shop Front Festival, added: “We’re trying out new experiences with pop-up performances in public spaces and shops in the city.
“One of the areas we wanted to begin to develop as we work towards the UK City of Culture year in 2021 is the partnerships between arts and business.
“Coventry Business Improvement District (BID) have been instrumental in brokering new contacts for the festival team and it is so encouraging to have a host of businesses ready and willing to participate in the festival and engage with artists.
“We’ve worked with Coventry City Council too to bring into use some of the empty units in the city centre – something every town and city is experiencing – and we believe the festival gives an opportunity to reimagine how city centres can attract visitors.”