City of Culture 2017 Hull takes 'its rightful place'

Media caption,
Celebrations are in full swing in Hull, as Caroline Bilton reports.

There were cheers, tears, and even a conga when Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "The UK City of Culture 2017 is Hull." No-one in the city has any idea what she said next.

"I feel 20 feet tall," said Mark Babych, artistic director of the Truck Theatre, where the city's bid team gathered to hear the announcement.

"I've only been here four or five months and I've loved every minute of being here. The people of Hull have been amazing, this has been a real big city effort."

Andrew Dixon, the man who directed the city's winning bid, has promised a £15m programme of 365 days of cultural activities and an opening ceremony involving 3,000 volunteers.

"It's fantastic for the people of Hull. This bid has involved all the cultural sector, it's involved politicians, the University of Hull, but most importantly it won the hearts and minds of the people of the city.

"Hull suffers from negative perceptions that go back 400 years.

"This is a beautiful city that's been the heart of maritime Europe, the centre of the UK, it's a great place to live, a great place to learn and a great place to visit, and City of Culture now puts it on an international platform.

"People will come here and they will smile, not laugh, because they'll get a great welcome, they'll see fantastic culture, and they'll see a city taking its rightful place at the centre of the UK."

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Hull has planned more than 1,500 events for 2017, including 25 festivals

Karen Okra of the Hull Black History Partnership said: "I never once doubted Hull.

"Hull knows what it wants, knows what it needs, we're proud, we deserve it and we've got it."

Brian Lavery, a writer and lecturer at the University of Hull, said: "This is going to filter down to the next John Godber, who's now sitting in a primary school classroom somewhere, to some kid playing air guitar in front of his bedroom mirror, to somebody writing poetry in their attic."

Councillor Steven Bayes said: "It will transform the city.

"We've seen what it's done in other cities, it will make a huge difference.

"It's a party that will go on a long time."

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "It's the perfect answer to the nonsense we read in The Economist recently that Hull should be abandoned."

The celebrations have stretched beyond the boundaries of the city, with Hull's success prompting lots of reaction on Twitter.

Michelle Dewberry, who won The Apprentice in 2006, wrote: "YESSSSSSSSS WE DID IT!! Take that all you doubters, who's laughing now eh? I am so, so proud! C'mon Hull #HullYes"

Image caption,
Maureen Lipman said Hull was "strong in the face of opposition"

Lord Prescott, MP for Hull East from 1970 to 2010, posted a link to the short film This City Belongs to Everyone, which formed part of the bid, and said it was "Happy Hour again!"

And the author of the Crap Towns book series, which named Hull as the worst place in the UK in 2003, posted: "Really enjoying eating my words about Hull today. Big turnaround in 10 years. The city has done great. #hullyes"

But, as Mr Dixon acknowledges, negative perceptions of Hull abound and that is reflected in some of the reaction on Twitter.

Tweets range from "Hull ?!?" to "I've seen about as much culture in a pot of yogurt", and even the leader of Swansea council, which failed at its bid, took a swipe at the city.

David Phillips said: "If you live in Hull, you've got to have something to look forward to I suppose."

Many hope these attitudes can be turned around with the City of Culture title.

Hull-born actor Maureen Lipman said: "The fact we've been regarded as a bit of a joke, I think has made us very strong in the face of opposition.

"I'm thrilled that Hull got it, finally they got a treat."

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