UK City of Culture

The UK City of Culture is a title awarded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport every four years to a city in the United Kingdom, with the winner hosting a year-long programme of cultural events and celebrations. Having launched with Derry-Londonderry in 2013, the prestigious title for 2017 was given to the port city of Hull in East Yorkshire. The City of Culture is a chance to celebrate a city’s unique qualities and open its cultural life to the rest of the world.

Why Hull?

Hull is a city that has often been overlooked. Following decades of economic hardship and industrial decline, many Brits were surprised when the city won the bid for the much-coveted City of Culture accolade back in 2013. However, new visitors to the city have discovered that there’s a lot more to Hull than meets the eye.

Hull is a hub for exchange of ideas and people and is one of the country’s largest ports, with strong trading links to northern Europe. The city has been a centre of free thinking, bold ideas and radicalism throughout history. Towards the end of the 18th century it was the home of abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759–1833) and writer, philosopher and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797). Aviator Amy Johnson (1903–1941) and poet and novelist Stevie Smith (1902–1971) also took on different strongholds of male-dominated culture: Amy Johnson broke into the world of aviation as the first woman to fly from Britain to Australia; and Stevie Smith took on the literary world, producing one of Britain’s most popular poems, Not Waving but Drowning. To find out more about the women who helped shape Hull’s culture, watch the video above.

Hull is famously the home of poet Philip Larkin, and more recently former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, who lectured at the University of Hull where fellow poet Roger McGough studied. Hull’s first theatre, Hull New Theatre, opened in 1939, followed by the Hull Truck Theatre in 1971. The creation of Hull Truck Theatre by actor Mike Bradwell is indicative of the passion and determination of actors from Hull. Other home-grown stars include Sir Tom Courtenay, Maureen Lipman and Ian Carmichael, as well as a younger generation including Reece Shearsmith, Debra Stephenson and Liam Garrigan.To get an insight into how Hull’s acting talent has impacted art and creative practice in the city today, watch the video below.

Art takes to the streets

For Hull 2017, the arts have spilled out beyond the walls of the city’s galleries and theatres to envelop its public spaces with a series of festivals. In the video above, Hull residents discuss what makes their home city the ideal choice for a of Culture. The year’s festivities launched on New Years Day, with the city putting on a dazzling festival of colour. A huge firework display was held on the waterfront, attracting a crowd of 25,000, while the inaugural event Made in Hull transformed the city’s Victoria Square into a medley of sound and light featuring a film installation by artist Zsolt Balogh entitled We Are Hull. Watch highlights of the opening event and find out more about the City of Culture seasons in the videos above.

What’s next for Hull?

As the city’s year in the spotlight draws to a close, event organisers, artists, residents and audiences are reflecting on a transformational year of cultural regeneration. Hull 2017, the company formed to run the City of Culture, are also looking to the future, and will continue their work into 2018 and beyond as a permanent independent arts organisation under the new name of Culture Company. In partnership with the city’s proud residents, the organisation is determined to carry on the legacy of the year’s success, and retain Hull’s strengthened reputation and renewed visibility as a vital national hub for culture, creativity and artistic excellence.

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