Evaluation report highlights UK City of Culture impact

City and cultural leaders have welcomed the publication of an independent evaluation of Hull’s year in the spotlight as UK City of Culture 2017, which confirms the continuing impact the title has had on the city.

The report, published by the University of Hull, says “the most significant impact of all” was an estimated £676m of new private and public investment that was generated for the city.

It also highlights the significant growth in tourism which has been sustained since 2017, and a transformation in perceptions of Hull.

The key findings include – 

• Improved perception of Hull nationally – the report highlights the change in national perception during 2017, concluding that by the end of 2017 the city had become synonymous with culture

• £676m of new private and public investment was generated in the city as a result of hosting UK City of Culture 2017

• The volume of tourism visits to Hull in 2017 increased by 9.7% in 2017. This increased by almost a further 1% in 2018. The growth in tourism from 2012 to 2018 stands at 31%

• Overnight trips to the city increased by 15.4% in 2017 and fell by just 2% in 2018 – bucking the trend when compared to significant drops in overnight stays experienced by cities in the year following their European Capital of Culture years

• Employment in cultural industries grew by just over 15% from 2015 to 2017 

• Hull 2017 compares favourably with European Capitals of Culture, especially in generating pride amongst residents

• Hull City Council’s continuing investment in culture and heritage, including a successful £15m bid to the National Lottery to help deliver the £27.4m Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City Project. Since 2017, this investment has also included the £36m Bonus Arena, the £3.8m Pearson Park Project and a further investment in the next phases of development in Hull’s Fruit Market cultural and digital quarter. The council has also committed to continued investment which will improve its cultural and leisure core, including the £120m Albion Square development, £4.3m Queens Gardens refurbishment, the multi-million pound development of Whitefriargate and longer term plans for the city’s cruise terminal. 

Councillor Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see the continuing success and impact of UK City of Culture set out in this report, but for residents and visitors who experienced the year this will come as no surprise.  The quality of the programme, the support of the city and the impact it had on lives of local people was plain to see.  

“It’s been a remarkable few years for Hull, during which we’ve seen perceptions of the city transformed and the huge investment that has flowed from that. Our eyes are now very much on the future and more exciting times ahead.  As we look forward to celebrating our maritime heritage through the Hull, Yorkshire’s Maritime City project, we can be confident that the city and its people will continue to reap the benefits of 2017 for years to come.”

The report also highlights the importance of continuing development of cultural institutions and the cultural sector.

Since 2017, arts organisations across the city have continued to develop the city’s cultural offer and build on the success of UK City of Culture.

Annual events such as Humber Street Sesh, Freedom Festival and Pride in Hull continue to grow, as do the offers of key local cultural institutions such as Hull Truck Theatre and Hull Culture and Leisure, which operates venues such as Ferens Art Gallery, Hull New Theatre and Hull Maritime Museum.

A local strategic partnership body for culture-led initiatives, titled the Culture and Place Strategic Advisory Group (CAPSAG), has also been set-up to support the arts sector. It is one of the first Cultural Compacts created nationally to support arts and culture. CAPSAG has clear, collective ambition created with the city’s cultural sector to deliver a 10-year plan to evolve and build on the city’s cultural strategy following 2017.

Jane, Lady Gibson, chair of CAPSAG, said: “Our culture and place group brings together local partners with a passion for maximising the impact culture has in the city and neighbouring areas. CAPSAG was born out of 2017, but the cultural ecosystem was already very strong and completely, authentically, Hull. Our plans now focus on strengthening our working so that even greater social and economic benefits can be experienced by everybody.

“The ambition for Hull UK City of Culture was that it would be a catalyst in a long-term plan to regenerate the city, strengthening its reputation as a place with a rich cultural core and heritage. Almost three years on, the University’s report shows what was achieved in 2017 and its continuing legacy. It is a remarkable achievement and all the partners involved are completely committed to the next 10 years of Hull’s remarkable journey.” 

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