The creative industries are vital to the resurgence of Coventry, CBI director general Sir Digby Jones has warned.
His comments came as he praised the redevelopment of the city's Belgrade Theatre and urged the business community to get behind the project.
Visiting the theatre to meet local industrialists, Sir Digby stressed how industry and business could work together for the long-term benefit of the region.
The arts were vital to the regeneration of Coventry and creating a cultural entertainment and social centre would help to attract people from all over the country.
He said: "The development of the Belgrade Theatre will be a beacon for a new 21st century Coventry.
"Creative industries are one of this country's champion sectors and for a city council and a business community to put their money where their mouths are and put Coventry back
on the map for artistic excellence is precisely what will encourage young people to build careers in tomorrow's globally relevant interests."
David Burbidge, chairman of the Belgrade Theatre Board, praised Sir Digby for his "encouragement and backing".
He said: "The visit of someone of his stature is a clear indication of the importance and significance of the Belgrade's redevelopment and I am sure that his inspirational speech will go a long way to persuading even more local businesses to support the theatre and its capital development scheme."
The Belgrade Theatre is currently undergoing a £12 million upgrade taking in a seven-storey landmark extension.
The addition will include a state-of-the-art second auditorium, a new entrance from Bond Street, new rehearsal facilities and improved backstage areas.
The existing building will be refurbished with new ventilation in the 850-seat main house, new customer lifts servicing all floors and extra toilets.
The building will close temporarily at the end of February and will reopen later in the year.
Local businesses have shown their support by donating £5,000 to become corporate founding partners, a scheme which has helped the theatre's public fundraising campaign raise more than £1 million.