Hull will be an “increasingly confident” place to be in four years’ time as it continues to reap the economic benefits of its time as UK City of Culture, the man behind the year-long programme of events has told Insider. Martin Green said the event has “greatly exceeded” his expectations, discussed the responsibility of taking on the project and doled out advice to the Coventry 2021 team.
The city’s year-long stint as the successor to Derry/Londonderry 2013 is coming to an end, having hosted more than 2,000 events, exhibitions and cultural activities, and welcomed millions of visitors.
Nine out of ten residents have attended, or taken part in, an event as part of Hull 2017 and the city has welcomed more than £1bn of investment since securing the title four years ago.
Reflecting on the 12 months, Hull 2017 director and chief executive Martin Green has told Insider that the year “greatly exceeded” his expectations.
“I don’t think anyone could’ve conceived that it would take off in the way it did and keep that energy going right through the year,” he added. “It’s been down to the fact that the year has been a collective act; it hasn’t been driven by a single person or agency.
“The whole city came together on this. Whether it be the council, arts institutions, the police, health services or the public, everyone got on board and did their bit.
“They were paid back by the sheer volume of visitors we had.
“With something like this there’s always a danger that it is being done to those who live here, as oppose to for or with them, but there’s a real sense of ownership. They’ve embraced it.”
Regarding the initial reaction to Hull being named UK City of Culture back in 2013, Green said: “Cynicism is natural and good. It keeps everyone in check and gives you a huge sense of responsibility.
“I think there’s an enormous amount of energy in the city now and you can see that in the public realm works being done, the refurbished art gallery and theatre, Hull City Council being awarded £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund with regards the Maritime City, more small businesses opening here over the past two years; plenty of stuff.
“You can’t lay all of this at door of the City of Culture success but when somewhere like Hull is in the spotlight, it’s noticed as people see the city in a way they never have done before.”
Asked whether Hull will still be feeling the benefits of 2017 four years down the line, Green said: “I hope so. It’s been a real economic driver so far.
“Businesses are reporting that they’re able to attract better staff, we’re building more housing; I expect you’d see an increasingly confident city in four years.”
Coventry was recently named as the successor to Hull as UK City of Culture, and will begin its 12-month reign on 1 January 2021.
Advising the team behind the initiative, Green said: “It’s simple; do it your own way.
“There’s no model or blueprint for something like this.
“If you’re going to speak for the city, you have to do it in the way the city wants, is capable of doing and how the infrastructure will allow.”
Earlier this month, two new names were appointed to take the reins at the organisation responsible for driving Hull’s City of Culture 2017 legacy.
Katy Fuller, currently executive producer at Hull 2017, and Emma Morris, who is a University of Hull alumnus and most recently executive director at Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery, joined the Culture Company as creative director and executive director respectively.