A coffee shop owner in Coventry has admitted how he cried with relief upon learning his bid for £78,000 of financial support from the second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund had been successful.  After the announcement today, he is raising a cup to a more certain future in the city with coffee and culture collaborations on the menu.

Esquires, which operates from Millennium Place, has been at the heart of the Coventry community for over 12 years, supporting numerous local organisations and events. Pre-Covid, the business was performing well and celebrating its best year to date.

After the pandemic hit, Esquires – like many businesses in the city – were struggling to see a way out of the situation and with the support of Trish Willetts at Coventry BID, submitted a funding application to Arts Council England in the hope of securing the future of the business.

Steven Prime, Director at Esquires Coffee Coventry, comments: “I won’t pretend that I haven’t had some very dark moments over the past months, as I’ve tried to fathom how we could come back from everything post-Covid. This past 12 months has easily been the worst in our 12-year trading history”.

He continues, “My goal in applying for the ACE funding was to shore up the finances of the business, so that we could rebuild and restore Esquires to its place at the heart of the community.  In doing so, we can continue to support other local organisations, as well as provide Coventrians with more amazing cultural events.

“Over the years we have been the opening venue for the Coventry Jazz Festival, hosted fashion shows and Open Mic Nights, welcomed Fairtrade School lessons and supported many University organisation events.”

Upon learning of his successful application, Steven admits to shedding a tear.  He continues; “The team have all been absolutely fantastic and so understanding throughout, so it’s a joy to be able to share such amazing news with them.

“We are all delighted to get this opportunity to continue this work, especially as we move into the UK City of Culture year.  I can’t wait to bring our plans to life!”

Trish Willetts, Director at Coventry BID, adds: “We were honoured to be able to support Steven and the Esquires team with their application for ACE funding and absolutely delighted to hear that they were successful. We are very much looking forward to seeing how the funding will help to bring the business back to life again after such a tough year and can’t wait to celebrate with them at their first cultural event!”

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work.

“We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, which will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

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