Since it was announced that Hull would be 2017’s City of Culture, there has been huge anticipation about how the city would showcase the transformational power of culture. With millions of pounds’ of investment being pumped into the programme, and an estimated £32 million expected to be spent during the year, there is hope of a lasting impact on the city, with the legacy of a strengthened economy, an increased sense of pride and a positively established identity.
With an impressive and awe-inspiring firework display to start the year, this is only the beginning of a jam-packed schedule of events as the Hull 2017 team kicks off the 365 days of culture. There is certainly a wealth of activities to come, with many of the events still to be announced. Some of the most prominent upcoming music performances include Hull’s own Callum Scott from Britain’s Got Talent and musical legend Paul Heaton (formerly of the The Housemartins and The Beautiful South) playing a one-off show at the Hull KR Lightstream stadium. There will also be a huge focus on art with the hosting of the prestigious Turner Prize and the end result of the Sea of Hull art project by Spencer Tunick being exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery.
With huge investments from companies such as Siemens, Reckitt Benckiser and the Spencer Group, there is a hope of new business and new blood coming into the city. With the prospect of more jobs and an emphasis on new opportunity put forth by councillor Steven Brady, this means there will be a huge impact on business within the city of Hull.
As an example of what the City of Culture title has to offer, let’s take a look at the footfall within the city centre. For those of you who attended the Made in Hull spectacular that lit up the city’s landmark buildings with stories from its rich history, you were one of over 342,000 people to visit the event. The installation created by Hull-born, BAFTA nominated documentary film-maker Sean McAllister, showcased a moving tribute to the city and is part of the first season from the City of Culture programme. As an example of what this footfall could do for a local business, the Golden Fry fish and chip shop in the area served up an astounding six stones of fish every day to a line of customers out the door during the event, a definite uplift from the previous weeks leading up to the event.
With all of the experiences happening throughout the year, there is hope for a growth in tourism within the Hull area. Already, there has been an increase in hotel bookings for AccorHotels within the city with a 50% increase for the first six months of 2017 compared to the year prior. With more tourists being attracted to the city, Hull really has a chance to show people from around the world what it has to offer.
Mark Jones, the director of regeneration in Hull had some encouraging words to say on the topic of unemployment. With more and more people set to come to Hull during the year, the expected additional one million visitors will hopefully put an extra “£60 million into the local economy”. Their target of creating around 1,300 jobs out of the City of Culture doesn’t seem like a far off dream with 350 of these already created and filled, with hopes of an economic revival.
Summit’s CEO, Hedley Aylott, spoke about how he feels about Hull’s title: “Hull has always had a rich and diverse culture, and the City of Culture title creates the perfect opportunity for us show just what we have to offer. The upcoming events and resulting influx of people will help boost the economy, create employment opportunities and open doors to new partnerships for local businesses.”