Hull’s year as UK City of Culture has been praised as an "unmitigated rip-roaring, awe-inspiring, life-enhancing success", by Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley, as the city approaches the end of its tenure.
Hull's city of culture status has boosted the local economy by an estimated £60m and the city has also seen more than £1bn of investment since being chosen to hold the 2017 title four years ago.
The city’s programme of a cultural event every day of the year was inspired by poet Philip Larkin’s poem “Days”. Larkin previously worked as a university librarian in the city.
The programme featured “knock-out artistic successes” including festivals such as Contains Strong Language, the UK’s biggest poetry festival, and the Freedom Festival, an offering of music, dance, poetry and performance which featured a speech from the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In a blog post for ACE on the body's website, Henley said: “Resolutely optimistic and excited as I was at the turn of the year, even I would not have predicted just how resounding an impact being UK City of Culture would prove to have on this great East Yorkshire city.”
Henley added that the Arts Council, along with the city’s organisers and civic leaders, intends to build on the achievements made by the city in the years to come.
He said: “For Hull, being UK City of Culture has been an unmitigated rip-roaring, awe-inspiring, life-enhancing success. Hull has changed for the better and it’s a real living breathing case study of what long-term strategic investment in arts and culture can do to radically alter a place for the better.
“Together, we’ve ignited a new sense of ambition, excitement and possibility in Hull. And we want to build on those achievements in the coming years. We’ve shown that investing in art and culture fills a place with possibility and creativity; it helps people learn more and lead happier, healthier lives; and it improves a place’s economic prospects. I want Hull 2017’s legacy to be a success for all of those reasons, but I want to make it happen for another reason too.
Stephen Brady, Hull city council leader, said: “We’ve had an unforgettable year and everyone has worked together for the same goal. The confidence in the city is at an all-time high and we will build on this over the coming years.
“2017 was a catalyst for change, and our ambitious plans will carry on with Hull Venue [a new 3,500-capacity entertainment complex] opening in June 2018, and plans for the Yorkshire cruise terminal are progressing very well. This is the city’s renaissance.”
The next city to be city of culture will be Coventry in 2021.