Hull prepares for 2017 UK City of Culture celebrations

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 November 2016

The Humber Street Sesh will be back in August with more music and marvellous mayhem (photograph: Tom Arran)

The Humber Street Sesh will be back in August with more music and marvellous mayhem (photograph: Tom Arran)

© Tom Arran

Hull is set for a year-long party and we’re all invited, as Jo Haywood reports

If the bus stops are this much fun in Hull, just imagine what the 2017 celebrations are going to be like (photograph: Sodium)If the bus stops are this much fun in Hull, just imagine what the 2017 celebrations are going to be like (photograph: Sodium)

You might want to clock up a few early nights in the coming weeks because, once 2017 dawns, we’re in for 365 days of non-stop partying.

Hull’s year as the UK’s City of Culture begins on January 1st but the rebranding of the city has already begun with slogans like ‘Everyone back to ours’, ‘Think you know Hull? Think again’, and ‘You can sleep when it’s all over’ emerging alongside details of the first tranche of cultural events.

The year is going to be split into four distinct seasons. The first, running from January to March, is a curated 90-day showcase of local talent and creative partnerships under the banner Made in Hull.

The first night will feature live performances and large-scale projections and illuminations on buildings and across the historic skyline, telling the story of Hull in the last 70 years. There will also be a spectacular firework display over the Humber.

Opera North is going to �play� the Humber Bridge in a musical first (photograph: Octovision Media)Opera North is going to �play� the Humber Bridge in a musical first (photograph: Octovision Media)

As the first season progresses, leading cultural organisations from across the UK will join forces with local performers, artists and musicians in a series of creative partnerships. This means that the Arts Council Collection, the Art Fund, BBC, BFI, British Council, the British Museum, Hallé Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, National Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, Opera North, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Collection, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Shakespeare Company, Southbank Centre and Tate are all heading our way in a veritable tidal wave of culture.

Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull 2017 (and the man who made the London Olympic 2012 opening and closing ceremonies happen), said: ‘Hull has always had a unique cultural voice and in 2017 it will roar.

‘The spirit, the stories and the talent of this city have inspired this national year of celebration. From its artists to its residents through to the city’s incredible heritage, Hull will share with the rest of the world what people from here have known all along, that this city has contributed significantly to ideas that have changed and enriched the world.’

The long-awaited official launch of the first season, held at Hull Truck Theatre earlier this autumn, was attended by renowned names like Sir Nicholas Serota, who has just stepped down as director of Tate, Bafta-winning filmmaker Chris Hees, folk star Eliza Carthy, theatre director Mark Babych and arts journalist Rosie Millard, who studied at Hull University and is now chair of Hull 2017.

Hull Marina has played a prominent role in the city�s heritage and will have a starring role in future seasons (photograph: Neil Holmes)Hull Marina has played a prominent role in the city�s heritage and will have a starring role in future seasons (photograph: Neil Holmes)

‘Hull is now a better place to live, work, study and invest in,’ she said. ‘We are using culture as a catalyst for change, but it’s about more than staging a year of events. It’s about a city going through change. It’s art that will bring us together.’

She also announced that all 60,000 children in Hull will be able to take part in the 2017 celebrations through a programme called No Limits, due to be officially launched this month (November).

And, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, BBC director-general Tony Hall announced on stage at Hull Truck that he was not only backing the city to the hilt during its year in the limelight, he was also going to ensure it appeared on the weather map – every day!

‘I’ve been asked about Hull on the weather maps. Sometimes it’s there, quite often it’s not,’ he explained. ‘I’ve made a phone call and, as of January 1st, Hull will be on the weather map for the entirety of 2017 and on from there.’

As the details of season one have been revealed, excitement is already growing about seasons two, three and four.

Roots & Routes, which runs from April to June, will look at how Hull has become a gateway to Europe; Freedom, July to September, will be a celebration of the city’s risk-takers and rule-breakers; and Tell the World, October to December, will look to the future, redefining Hull’s position in the Northern Powerhouse.

‘Hull 2017 draws on this city’s distinctiveness and the ambition and dynamism of the north, whilst offering an opportunity to reflect on the nation as a whole,’ said Martin Green, a man with enough energy to power the opening night illuminations.

‘Next year will show the power that art has to bring people together, to surprise and delight, to educate and provoke debate - to transform lives. Hull invites the world: everyone back to ours in 2017.’

Money matters

Building on Hull City Council’s £3.6 million initial investment, Hull 2017 has raised a mammoth £32m for the year.

More than 60 partners have come on board to support the project including public bodies, lottery distributors, trusts, foundations and businesses (both local and national).

Sixty-eight per cent of the funding is dedicated to public activities, with a further 11 per cent for legacy and contingency.

More than £5m is being invested in volunteering, learning and community engagement, and a further £1.6m is being set aside for post-2017 events to ensure the cultural bandwagon keeps on rolling.

Look who’s talking about Hull 2017

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock: ‘Having seen this programme, and knowing Hull since childhood, I know that Hull City of Culture 2017 is going to be brilliant. I have no doubt it will attract visitors from all over the UK, and demand people see Hull in a new light.’

Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council: ‘It’s incredible to think that the year we have been working so hard towards for so long is now only a matter of weeks away. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to put Hull on the national and international map.’

Bafta-winning (and Oscar-nominated) filmmaker Chris Hees: ‘There’s a really energy in the air and a feeling that things can happen in the city now. People are just going to go and make stuff. There’s a feeling that anything is possible.’

BBC director-general Tony Hall: ‘The BBC will be unashamedly Hull-centric in 2017, supporting you in ways that will have a long term impact. We’ll invest in young people across the city, delivering workshops and master classes to give them the tools and confidence to succeed in the creative industries.’

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