Earlier this week I attended a discussion at Hull University, for the launch of the Culture, Place and Policy Institute, featuring several key people involved in the Hull 2017 programme. There were a lot of very interesting points raised and discussed by the assembled panel, which included chief executive and director of Hull 2017, Martin Green and Darren Henley, the Chief Executive of Arts Council England and former Hull University student.
Amongst the various topics discussed was the ongoing impact of Hull being named the UK City of Culture and how, as a city, we can take this wonderful event beyond 2017, supporting the creative and cultural future of the city into the next decade and beyond. It is safe to say that next year is set to be an exciting one, with literally hundreds of events, shows and displays, either directly or indirectly forming part of the celebrations. It is the ongoing changes, however, that can change the city for the better well into the future. These changes are not only for those who are artistic and creative, they are for everybody.
A cultural shift in Hull, assisted by the status of City of Culture, will undoubtedly bring more music, more art and more theatre into the public eye. The less obvious, but possibly the more important is the impact that this shift will have on business, on health and on the wellbeing of Hull’s residents. Music, art and theatre can be healing. Art, in whatever format, can inspire people in amazing ways and can literally (there is plenty of evidence to prove this) make people more healthy. A more vibrant and eclectic night life will attract people to the city, who in turn spend money, which in turn creates prosperity, jobs and attracts further investment.
Investment in infrastructure and property breeds further investment and development of the city’s bars, restaurants, galleries and venues. This, again, attracts more people, provides more opportunity for artists, musicians and creatives to develop and display their work to a much wider audience. The cycle goes on, and on.
This is how the future of Hull looks if the city pulls together and sees it through. For many, 2017 City of Culture is viewed as just a bit of a party and even a waste of time. It is however a genuine opportunity to change the future of the people who live in and grow up in Hull. Change takes time, there are often barriers, but it’s worth the effort.