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University of Hull reveals UK City of Culture evaluation at major conference

Key findings and reflections from the evaluation of Hull’s UK City of Culture year will be released as the University of Hull hosts a major conference to explore the results, successes and lessons from the city’s year in the cultural spotlight.

The evaluation by the University of Hull’s Culture, Place and Policy Institute (CPPI), will be presented and explored during a conference at the University of Hull (19-21 November 2019). The report examines the impacts of the year across five key areas: arts and culture; place making; economy; society and wellbeing; and partnerships and development.

The conference – Cultural Transformations – What’s Next? Issues and Challenges for Future Cities of Culture from the Evaluation of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 – will see champions of the City of Culture year such as former Hull 2017 chief executive and director Martin Green return to Hull to share insights into the concept and practice of culture-led urban transformations and how Hull’s experience can help to shape success for other cities in the future. The conference will open with an evening reception at the Guildhall in Hull, with speeches by Martin Green; Leader of Hull City Council Stephen Brady; Director of Legacy, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Oonagh McGillian; Director, Culture Liverpool, Claire McGolgan; and Professor Glenn Burgess from the University of Hull. This will be followed by the 2-day event at the University of Hull.

Professor Franco Bianchini, Director of the University of Hull’s Culture, Place and Policy Institute, said: “From attracting inward investment and tourists to stimulating participation in  a variety of social and cultural activities, the successes of Hull’s year as City of Culture have been well documented and reported. There is no doubt that since Hull 2017, the city’s image has changed for the better, both within Hull and externally.

“The evaluation shows that Hull has benefitted from the UK City of Culture title. The increase in tourism has been largely sustained, the cultural sector is better networked and more ambitious, and there is evidence that many of the positive effects of Hull 2017 are continuing to shape the city.”

The year included over 2,800 events, cultural activities, installations and exhibitions.  £676m new public and private investment in Hull from 2013 to 2019 can be at least partly attributed to the UK City of Culture title. 800 jobs were created and visitors to Ferens Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum and the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library all increased dramatically during 2017. Cumulatively, the programme was experienced 5.3 million times by audiences, with more than 9 in 10 residents taking part in at least one cultural activity in 2017. Tourism data from 2018 now shows a 50,000 increase in overnight trips and an increase in visitor spend (from £178.1 million in 2017 to £180 million in 2018). The 2018 citywide residents’ survey also revealed an increased in attendance at arts and cultural events in late 2018 and early 2019.



States of play


“There is no doubt that since Hull 2017, the city’s image has changed for the better, both within Hull and externally." Professor Franco Bianchini, Director Culture, Place and Policy Institute, University of Hull

Royal Ballet

Walton Street Market © Thomas Arran

BP Portrait Awards Exhibition

“With Hull being only the second UK City of Culture, there are obviously learnings that could act as an inspiration for other cities who also wish to build their profile as vibrant cultural cities,” said Professor Bianchini. “I am looking forward to sharing these findings around changing internal and external perceptions of the city, wellbeing, cultural participation and economic impacts at the conference.

“The challenges and rewards of keeping the transformational effects of the City of Culture going are considerable. Both Glasgow and Liverpool – which have been successful in keeping their cultural momentum going since their European City and Capital of Culture years, in 1990 and 2008 respectively – already had a stronger cultural and public transport infrastructure than Hull prior to their year in the cultural spotlight. They were able to build on this.”

The conference will also cover: innovative approaches to cultural leadership and governance in cities like Umea in Sweden and Essen in Germany; the London Borough of Culture initiative (modelled on the UK City of Culture), and some of the plans for Coventry.

Hull City Council led the bid for UK City of Culture status as part of a long term plan to regenerate the city with hosting UK City of Culture as a key milestone and catalyst towards raising Hull’s ambitions. Key aims of the project included raising aspiration and skills through increased participation; growing the size and strength of the cultural and visitor economy; and transforming attitudes and perceptions of Hull.

The University also played a significant role in producing and hosting some of the spectacular events that formed part of the Hull 2017 programme.

Professor Glenn Burgess, Strategic Lead for the University’s City of Culture Partnership, said: “Here on campus we are proud to have engaged an audience of over 88,000 people. We hosted high-profile exhibitions which attracted national media attention and visitors such as the Minister of State for Digital and Culture who came to see a British Museum partnership exhibition, ‘Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now’. This featured works from some of the all-time greatest artists from Dürer to Degas.

“In turn these events brought exceptional opportunities for our students as performers, gallery guides and those who became City of Culture volunteers – boosting their CV’s in the process.”

A £9.5m investment in Middleton Hall represents the University’s commitment to creativity – and one of the ways it aims to deliver an unforgettable experience for students, staff and visitors. It continues to provide an amazing venue for music staff and students to showcase their talents. Our music studios and recording equipment rival the best commercial studios and many BBC shows have already been broadcast from the hall. 



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