Hull to be UK City of Culture 2017


Celebrations are in full swing in Hull, as Caroline Bilton reports

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Hull has been named the UK's next City of Culture, beating Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay to the right to hold the title in 2017.

Hull, known for being the home of poet Philip Larkin, the Ferens gallery and the Hull Truck theatre, will follow the 2013 City of Culture, Londonderry.

The UK government chooses a new destination every four years, with the aim of helping tourism and the economy.

Hull council leader Stephen Brady said winning was "a real game-changer".

I have witnessed first hand the transformation of Liverpool when it was European City of Culture in 2008, and Derry-Londonderry during its tenure as UK City of Culture this year.

The arts are not a panacea, but time and again they have proven to be remarkably effective in terms of urban regeneration. They bring tourists, investment, attention and confidence - all things from which Hull will benefit.

My guess is that the city will put on a great show.

He added: "It will give Hull a platform to tell the world what this great city has to offer, transform perceptions and accelerate our journey to make Hull a prime visitor destination."

TV producer Phil Redmond, who chaired the City of Culture panel, said Hull was the unanimous choice because it put forward "the most compelling case based on its theme as 'a city coming out of the shadows'".

"This is at the heart of their project and reminds both its people and the wider world of both its cultural past and future potential," he said.

Swansea's city council said losing to Hull was a "bitter disappointment".

In an apparent swipe at the winners, council leader David Phillips said the residents of Hull "had to have something to look forward to".

Culture secretary Maria Miller: "Hull deserved to win"

He added his team wouldn't "give up", as "there were too many good ideas in the bid, we're not going to let them slip through our fingers."

Leicester's Mayor Peter Soulsby expressed similar sentiments, saying: "We don't need to wait until 2017 to show ourselves off. We are going to do it now."

In Dundee, bid director Stuart Murdoch simply said the city was "broken-hearted".

Being City of Culture has brought Derry events like the Turner Prize and BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend.

But income from sponsorship and ticket sales has failed to live up to expectations and there have been tensions among organisers.

Some of the people celebrating Hull's selection as City of Culture explain who the city's greatest cultural exports are

Ministers created the UK City of Culture title in an attempt to replicate the success of Liverpool's year as the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

However, the winner does not receive direct funding from the UK government.

Culture secretary Maria Miller said Derry's tenure was "encouraging economic growth, inspiring social change and bringing communities together".

The Humber Bridge in Hull The Humber Bridge is the seventh-longest of its type in the world.

But she admitted she had not visited Derry herself since its tenure began in January.

"It's not been possible to go," she told the BBC. "It's always difficult to fit every single thing into the diary."

Social media buzz

How winners @2017Hull and the other bidders used social platforms to create conversations about their cities

Hull's most famous cultural figure is Larkin who, while not born there, lived in the city for 30 years and found fame while working as a university librarian.

He produced most of his published poetry while living in the city and Hull's bid is partly based on his work.

A statement from Hull City Council said: "Inspired by Larkin's poem Days, the ambition is for each day of Hull 2017 to make a difference to a life in the city, the UK and the world."

The council said it expected the events to bring a £60m boost to the local economy in 2017 alone, as well as a longer-term legacy for the city.

Hull Truck The Hull Truck theatre company moved into a £14.5m new home in 2009
The Maritime Museum (right) in Hull Hull is home to the Maritime Museum (right) which explores the seafaring heritage of the city

Hull is already home to the Ferens Art Gallery, which broke visitor records with a Da Vinci exhibition last year, and the Hull Truck theatre company, which became a national force in the 1970s and '80s and moved into a new £14.5m home in 2009.

Philip Larkin Hull's cultural programme will be inspired by the poems of Philip Larkin

The city's plans for 2017 include an opening ceremony involving theatrical elephants, dancing white phone boxes and four "rivers" of light, people and sound flowing into the city.

Hull's annual Freedom Festival will incorporate a special aerial show taking its theme from the last line of Larkin's poem An Arundel Tomb: "What will survive of us is love."

There will also be a stadium sound and light concert that will see lighting designer Durham Marenghi work with 500 dancers on the theme of illusion and fairs.

Phil Redmond added that the panel was "particularly impressed with Hull's evidence of community and creative engagement, their links to the private sector and their focus on legacy, including a commitment to enhance funding beyond 2017".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Although I have been living in the US for quite sometime now, I grew up in the wonderful city of Hull. I went to school there and then to Technical College. I have very fond memories of my times in Hull. It's a wonderful city with many wonderful people and of course friends. :-) My most memorable moment was when we made a trip from my junior high school to the Wilberforce museum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    603. Charlesown
    Wholly agree. I worked in Hull for 6 months on trawler maintenance at St. Andrews Dock in '69. Hull was a spit-and-sawdust, unpretentious place and the people I knew practical, hard-headed and kind. It will have changed a lot in 44 years as all places have. Let's hope the people are largely the same and this award gets the recognition from them it deserves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    I've always put off going to Hull.Apart from the ferens Art gallery,it hasn't really appealed.And is not easy for me to get to.But I will make a huge effort in/after 2017 to see for myself.

    (I've already visited Swansea and Leicester(and most cities/large towns in UK) and found plenty to see/do.)
    Well done Hull!

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    I'm a Leicester lad and would have loved us to have won this award as I am proud of our little city and a little boost would have gone a long way.

    The further the money goes away from London the better spread the culture wealth

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    As an ex resident of Hull I'm 'dead chuffed' for the city. Like many of it's northern counterparts it has suffered badly particularly since the end of trawling. Will certainly make the effort to revisit Hull next year & enjoy what it has to offer.
    As an aside I worked as a 'Sparks' on trawlers and sincerly believe the deckhands that I sailed with were the 'salt of the earth'.


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