Hull's designation as City of Culture has seen nine out of ten residents taking part in a cultural activity in the opening months of 2017, more than double the number before the city's bid for the title. Findings from an evaluation carried out by University of Hull's Culture, Place and Policy Institute (CPPI) also revealed that seven out of ten residents believe this is having a positive impact on the lives of local people.
The first three months had over 450 events, exhibitions and cultural activities, attracting over 1.4 million visits, with the second season increasing numbers to almost 1,000 events, exhibitions and cultural activities.
This has had a knock-on effect for the city's cultural institutions with more than half a million visits to Hull’s museums and galleries in the first four months of the year with 2017 figures almost guaranteed to be the most successful in terms of visitor numbers. Ferens Art Gallery and Hull Maritime Museum have seen year-on-year increases of over 500%. Hull Truck Theatre has seen an increase of over 8,000 people on 2016 betwen January and June this year with an average of 40% new visitors.
The local economy has benefitted from culture too, with hotel occupancy up 13.8% in January to March, compared with 2016, and over half of city centre businesses reporting a positive impact during Made in Hull (the opening event to the City of Culture), linked to increased footfall, sales, and diversification of customers. 37% of these businesses reported an increase in turnover, 27% saw an increase in profit on the previous year, and 40% were able to offer staff additional hours.
John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, said: “It is fantastic to see the huge benefits Hull is enjoying as UK City of Culture. That nine out of ten residents have experienced one of the cultural events is truly remarkable and shows how the city is embracing this special year. Cultural investment can help transform communities and we are already seeing the positive impact it is having on people’s lives, local businesses and tourism in Hull. The renewed focus on culture in the city will also help secure a lasting legacy that goes far beyond 2017.”
Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: “As we approach our third season Freedom, it goes almost without saying that this year has been quite a ride already. There’s been an incredible response to the cultural programme and we are thrilled that 90% of people living in the city have tried at least one cultural activity. Let’s not forget, this is just a snapshot – there is plenty more to come and we hope people will continue to try things out, not just this year, but beyond 2017. Of course, none of this would be possible without the vision of the council, which successfully bid for Hull to become UK City of Culture, the support and collaboration of partners, as well as the strong community of artists that will continue to ensure it remains a vibrant cultural centre.”
Image from Hull 2017 City of Culture website.