Hull UK City of Culture 2017 Programme Unveiled

Hull UK City of Culture 2017, of which Spencer Group is a Bid Angel, is a 365 day programme of cultural events and creativity inspired by the city and told to the world.

Divided into four seasons, this national event hosted in Hull, draws on the distinctive spirit of the city and the artists, writers, directors, musicians, revolutionaries and thinkers that have made such a significant contribution to the development of art and ideas.

The first season, Made in Hull, will run from January to March. It will begin on 1 January with a spectacular opening event over seven days. Also called Made in Hull, it is curated by the Hull-born, award-winning documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister, renowned for thought-provoking work, including the BAFTA nominated ‘A Syrian Love Story’.

Staged across the city centre, Made in Hull will feature large-scale projections and illumination onto buildings and the historic skyline, moving images and live performance, to tell the story of the last 70 years of the city’s life. The first night will culminate in a stunning fireworks display over the Humber, accompanied by a specially created audio-visual soundtrack.

Made in Hull will be just a taste of what is to come. In the first season and throughout the year Hull 2017 will showcase local talent and the vibrant cultural life of the city and the ideas and creativity across the North. It will also see leading cultural organisations from across the UK joining the city in creative partnerships, including the Arts Council Collection, the Art Fund, BBC, BFI, British Council, the British Museum, Brighton Festival, Hallé Orchestra, LIFT, London Sinfonietta, National Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, National Portrait Gallery, Opera North, PRS, Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Collection, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Shakespeare Company, Serious, Southbank Centre and Tate.

Martin Green, CEO and Director, Hull 2017, said: “Hull has always had a unique cultural voice and in 2017 it will roar. The spirit, the stories and the talent of this city have inspired this national year of celebration. From its artists to its residents through to the city’s incredible heritage, Hull will share with the rest of the world what people from here have known all along – this city has contributed significantly to ideas that have changed and enriched the world.

“Today is mainly about the first season, Made in Hull, but there is more to come in the following three. Hull 2017 draws on this city’s distinctiveness and the ambition and dynamism of the North, whilst offering an opportunity to reflect on the nation as a whole. Next year will show the power that art has to bring people together, to surprise and delight, to educate and provoke debate – to transform lives. Hull invites the world: everyone back to ours 2017.”

Each of Hull UK City of Culture’s four seasons has a particular theme connected to the city and its place in the world: Made in Hull (January – March); Roots & Routes (April – June); Freedom (July – September); and Tell the World (October – December).

As host to a major national event, Hull is welcoming the world. It is also working with local artists and supporting key events and festivals that already take place in Hull. There is an extensive programme of community engagement, including specially commissioned cultural events in every neighbourhood across the city and up to 4,000 volunteers will take to the streets to welcome neighbours and visitors.

As part of a legacy programme, over 60,000 children and young people across the city will have the opportunity to be involved in Hull UK City of Culture. This includes working with artists in schools and as part of community residencies.



Made in Hull

‘Made in Hull’, curated by the award winning, Hull-born documentary film maker Sean McAllister, is the opening event of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. As creative director, Sean has brought together a world-class team to develop a spectacular trail where the streets speak and buildings tell stories. It will use large-scale projection, illuminated skylines, soundscapes, shop windows and live performance. It will celebrate the last seven decades of life in Hull, from the devastation of the Second World War, through good times and hard times, to explore the city’s heritage and its characters at work and play.

The team includes Durham Marenghi, the internationally renowned lighting designer who comes from Hull and has just come back from designing the lighting for the Rio Olympic Games Opening ceremony; writer and theatre director Rupert Creed, also from Hull, who has worked in the industry for over 30 years across the North of England; Dan Jones, the Bafta winning sound designer and composer who has just finished the BBC adaptation of Hollow Crown; and acclaimed production designer and RIBA chartered architect Ala Lloyd, who has worked on large scale projects across the world. Made in Hull will feature new commissions from a number of local and international artists.

Everyone is invited to Made in Hull, runs each evening from 1-7 January 2017. It is a free event and does not require a ticket.

The fireworks display on the first night of Made in Hull (Sunday 1 January 2017) is also free, but will be ticketed in advance.



Visual Art

The Ferens Art Gallery will reopen in January 2017 with the complete redisplay of the gallery’s outstanding permanent collection, which includes works by artists from Frans Hals, Ingres, Canaletto and Henry Moore to Nan Goldin and Mark Wallinger. A special highlight will be the unveiling of an outstanding new acquisition, Pietro Lorenzetti’s Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter (c.1320), which will be revealed for the first time following four years of extensive conservation and research at the National Gallery, London. The painting is the only fully autographed work by Lorenzetti in a UK collection and was saved for the nation after being acquired by Ferens in 2013. Throughout the year, the collection at the Ferens will be augmented by a group of very rare and exceptional loans including two masterpieces: Manet’s study for Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe from The Courtauld Institute of Art and Rembrandt’s The Shipbuilder and his Wife from the Royal Collection, both paintings agreed as part of longer term national partnerships.

Also at the Ferens will be an exhibition of works by the internationally acclaimed sculptor, Ron Mueck as part of the ARTIST ROOMS On Tour programme (22 April -13 August) and the first showing of Spencer Tunick’s photographs from his 2016 Sea of Hull commission featuring hundreds of naked people in a series of photographic installations in the city centre (dates?). The Open Exhibition, founded in 1967, which showcases the creativity of local artists, celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2017. Judges of this special edition include Dr Gabriel Finaldi, Director, London’s National Gallery, Hull-born actress, Maureen Lipman and the leading sculptor David Mach (20 January – 12 March). The gallery will also present a fascinating display including five of Francis Bacon’s ‘Screaming Popes’ (21 January – 1 May).

In association with Tate, the world-renowned Turner Prize 2017 will be presented in Hull at the Ferens, the fifth location outside of London to host Europe’s most prestigious contemporary art prize since it was established in 1984.

The Humber Street Gallery, a brand new contemporary art space for the city showcasing the best contemporary art, will open in January 2017 in the heart of the city’s Fruit Market cultural quarter. From 3 February – 22 March, it will host the first major show to explore the work and legacy of COUM Transmissions, which was founded in Hull by artists Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti, a subversive collective that took the art world by storm in the late 1960s, ahead of their later involvement in the industrial musical collective Throbbing Gristle. Featuring materials drawn from their personal archives and curated by Hull born Cosey Fanni Tutti herself, this first retrospective will also feature musical performances, programmed by respected music website The Quietus, and three works by acclaimed artist Sarah Lucas.

Look Up is a year-long programme of newly commissioned works by artists made specifically for Hull’s public spaces. Designed to challenge people’s perceptions of the city and offer different ways to experience the city. Look up aims to intrigue and inspire throughout 2017 and is created in partnership with a range organisations, including The Deep, GF Smith and RIBA. Commissioned artists include Michael Pinsky, Nayan Kulkarni, Claire Barber, Bob and Roberta Smith, Sarah Barber, Claire Morgan and Tania Kovats (1 January – 31 December).

Nayan Kulkarni has also been commissioned by Hull City Council to create a series of light installations across the city centre in 2017. The council has also commissioned The City Speaks, a series of installations by artist Michael Pinsky, award-winning architects Tonkin Liu and Hull poet Shane Rhodes, which invite people to contemplate their surroundings and what it means to be made in Hull.

The Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull will host the exhibition, Lines of Thought – Drawing from Michelangelo to Now which features extraordinary drawings from the British Museum’s collection, including works by Dürer, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Matisse and Degas. Arguably the greatest exhibition of its kind ever presented in the city, the UK tour is generously supported by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation (3 January – 28 February).


Theatre and Performance

One of the highlights of the year is the world premiere of The Hypocrite by award-winning Hull playwright Richard Bean (of One Man, Two Guvnors fame). This riotous comedy is inspired by the life of Sir John Hotham, a historic Hull figure, who in 1642 played an important role as Hull became pivotal to the start of the English Civil War. The Hypocrite launches an outstanding programme of new ambitious commissions at Hull Truck and is a co-commission and co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which will take it to Stratford afterwards (World Premiere : 24 February – 18 March).

Other Hull Truck Theatre highlights include Richard III, a co-production with Northern Broadsides, the unique company founded by Barrie Rutter, which staged its first production (of Richard III) twenty five years ago in a boatshed on Hull’s marina (4 –27 May); the world première of Mighty Atoms by Amanda Whittington directed by Hull Truck Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Babych and inspired by the life of Hull’s original ‘Mighty Atom’, world champion boxer Barbara Buttrick (8 June-1 July). In another world premiere later in the year, for the first time in the main house, Hull Truck’s Youth Theatre will produce playwright Bryony Lavery’s newly commissioned script based on Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (22-26 August).


There will be major new commissions at different points during the year from some of the country’s leading exponents of immersive and site specific performance, including Slung Low and Blast Theory, changing the way people experience the city with work that takes place outside conventional cultural venues.

Blast Theory, whose work blurs the boundaries between real and fictional, will be inviting residents and visitors to Hull to re-imagine the city 80 years into the future as part of 2097: We Made Ourselves Over. Blast Theory have been making interactive artworks for over 25 years, bringing together film, installation, gaming and technology. A partnership with Aarhus, European Capital of Culture 2017.

Flood, created by Leeds-based Slung Low and written by James Phillips, is an epic adventure about the end of our world, set in the future, told in many parts. It is their most ambitious and experimental project to date, mixing live performance, special effects, digital elements to tell a story across an entire year.

Depart is a spell-binding performance from internationally acclaimed circus artists Circa, in a unique and atmospheric location. Led by Yaron Lifschitz with a creative team including the electronic musician Lapalux, this ethereal collaboration brings together acrobats, aerialists, choral singers and video artists for a remarkable performance that has been described as a meditation, as a playground for the soulful. Co-commissioned by LIFT, the National Centre for Circus Arts, Spitalfields Music, Hull 2017, LeftCoast and Brighton Festival. Supported by Arts Council England.

A contemporary retelling of Euripides’ Women of Troy by Zodwa Nyoni will be brought to life by Hull-based The Roaring Girls, a supported company of Hull Truck Theatre in collaboration with the University of Hull. The production, which features playful visuals, music and puppetry, tells the story of four women whose homes are no longer safe places. Directed by Amy Skinner (15-18 February).

The University of Hull will host the National Student Drama Festival for the very first time. The festival has provided a springboard for thousands of theatre makers since it was founded in 1956 with famous alumni including Simon Russell Beale, Michael Attenborough, Sir Antony Sher, Caryl Churchill and Sir Richard Eyre.



Mind on the Run: The Basil Kirchin Story is a fascinating journey through the life and work of Hull born musician Basil Kirchin, who has been called the founder of ambient music. The three-day festival at City Hall, presented in partnership with J-Night (producers of Hull Jazz Festival) and Serious (producers of London Jazz Festival), features brand new commissions and an all-star line-up of today’s sonic visionaries including Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory with members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, jazz legend Evan Parker, the founder of the Specials Jerry Dammers, Hull born Fila Brasilia founder Steve Cobby and St Etienne’s Bob Stanley, plus more to be announced. (17 – 19 February). Presented in partnership with Serious, BBC Radio 3, J-Night, Nova Studios and the University of Hull School of Arts.


The Spiders from Mars saw local heroes Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey join forces with David Bowie to become one of Hull’s most important musical exports. The band Holy Holy, featuring the original Spiders drummer Woody Woodmansey, long-time Bowie collaborator and producer Tony Visconti and Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory, will perform the first ever live rendition of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars in its entirety at City Hall (25 March).

Reflecting Hull’s links to northern Europe, acclaimed musician and long-time resident of Reykjavik, John Grant has created a brand new festival for the city. John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux: Sounds From Smoky Bay is a four-day festival at the end of April celebrating contemporary Nordic arts and culture which will take place in venues across the city. (28 April – 1 May).

Opera North will turn The Humber Bridge itself into a giant music installation – a living, breathing piece of music composed by Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and collaborators Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset. The deep sounds of the bridge will be captured by Hull-based sound artist Jez Riley French and performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, all experienced through headphones as visitors walk across the bridge to the soundscape (April)

The city is hosting the first part of the New Music Biennial 2017, a PRS for Music Foundation initiative, presented in partnership with Hull 2017, Southbank Centre, BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings. It features new commissions and a number of residencies planned throughout the year, and a line-up of acclaimed musicians, including Eliza Carthy, Gavin Bryars, Errolyn Warren, Sam Lee, Anna Meredith, Jocelyn Pook, Mica Levi and Go Go Penguin (1-2 July).

The University of Hull’s Middleton Hall has undergone a £9.5 million redevelopment, the centrepiece of which is a 400-seat concert hall for classical and popular music performances, along with a surround-sound cinema. The 2017 programme includes acclaimed classical guitarist Xuefei Yang (9 February); the celebrated baritone Roderick Williams and renowned pianist Christopher Glynn performing Schubert’s Winterreise; and Mica Levi conducting her Bafta nominated score for Under The Skin, performed by London Sinfonietta (16 February)

Actor Simon Callow narrates a family-friendly programme of classical music presented by the New London Chamber Ensemble. Telling Tales: Musical Stories with Narration features the stories of Opus Number Zoo, Peter & The Wolf and Martin Butler’s Dirty Beasts (24 February).

Hull Philharmonic Orchestra’s programme features the world premiere of a new work by one of the UK’s most popular contemporary composers, Karl Jenkins. The work has been written in celebration of Hull and the City Hall, home of HPO for more than 100 years (25 February).

Other music at City Hall includes the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, who will perform the music of John Williams, one of the world’s most prolific film composers. With more Oscar nominations than any other living person, Williams has scored more than seventy-five films in his career. The orchestra will perform music from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Harry Potter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman and many more (2 February).



Oscar-winning director, film and television producer and playwright Anthony Minghella is one of the most famous alumni of the University of Hull. For Anthony Minghella: A Retrospective, which will take place at Middleton Hall, Minghella’s former colleagues at the University will chart his academic career as a lecturer through to his first work in television and theatre. There will be discussions and script readings alongside screenings of Minghella’s award-winning films including The Talented Mr Ripley, The English Patient and Cold Mountain (24-26 January).

Tackling themes such as privacy and communication, Digital Dystopias: A Cyber Film Festival at Middleton Hall will explore what it means to human in the digital age, screening one film per night over five nights, starting with Alex Garland’s Ex Machina (10 – 14 February).

Hull, the birthplace of J. Arthur Rank, who founded the Rank Organisation, will host a major conference, Hull: City of Cinema at Middelton Hall to explore the contribution of Hull and East Yorkshire to British TV and cinema history. Contributors include Jeremy Thomas, award-winning producer, nephew of Carry On Director Gerald Thomas (24 – 26 March).

The BFI is funding Transformative Film Culture For Hull, as part of its National Lottery-funded BFI Film Audience Network and led by its lead partner BFI Film Hub North.  Delivered by Hull 2017, Hull Independent Cinema and a unique partnership of film festival, educational and archive partners from across the north, the film programme will bring a packed programme of more than 400 screenings, one-off events and film festivals throughout the year to Hull and the region. The programme reflects the BFI’s activities across the UK to bring film to audiences where there is less opportunity for them to experience and engage in film and to support localised film networks.



Hull will be at the forefront of celebrations to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, joining forces with the amazing Duckie team to create Festival LGBT 50. Incorporating Hull’s annual Pride festivities, a live event at City Hall and a choreographic commission working with Yorkshire Dance, with people of all ages and abilities invited to dance, in celebration of the city’s contribution to liberation, tolerance and emancipation around the world.

Each season will host a themed weekend-long festival of events, debate and live music. The first season sees WOW (Women of the World) a festival of talks, debates, music, film, comedy and activism that celebrates women and takes frank look at what stops them achieving their potential. WOW Hull is part of the global movement founded by Jude Kelly six years ago at the Southbank Centre. With over 33 festivals across five continents, WOW is an open and safe place for women, girls, men and boys to inspire, interrogate and bring about necessary and real change. The weekend includes a special concert celebrating the work of Hull-born pianist, composer and conductor pioneer Ethel Leginska who will be recognised in the 2017 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Presented in partnership with Southbank Centre. (10 – 12 March)

In June, Where Are We Now? will see Neu! Reekie!, Scotland’s cutting edge arts collective bring together a  unique gathering of rabble rousers, agitators, thinkers and luminaries from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England to explore the cultural state of the nations . Freedom Talks in September, led by the Wilberforce Institute for Slavery and Emancipation, will explore the contemporary legacy of the life and work of Wilberforce and the wider abolitionist movement. In December, Hull will host Substance, following a year-long programme of events across the north, in an attempt to explore the cultural soul of the region and the role arts and culture will play as the north rises again.

BBC highlights for Hull 2017 will include a major new spoken word and poetry festival called Contains Strong Language. The four day festival will be held in October 2017 and will be a celebration of both new and existing works. A group of 17 poets, the Hull ’17 will be based in the city for the four days of the festival. CBeebies, Northern Ballet and Hull 2017 will collaborate to create a colourful new interactive ballet based on the book The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments by Arnold Lobel. The ballet will be choreographed with children in mind to create a family friendly and accessible experience for all.

British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, will co-create with Hull 2017, a range of programmes across arts and education during the Freedom and Tell the World seasons.

Throughout the year, Back To Ours will bring performances from artists and companies from around the world directly to the doorstep of communities across Hull. This ground-breaking initiative features three affordable multi-artform festivals during half terms during 2017, including comedy, music, circus, theatre, cabaret, dance and film. Working with producers China Plate and in collaboration with Hull venue partners, Back to Ours will come to schools, community centres, social clubs and other locations in the heart of neighbourhoods.

Also taking place across the year, 60 original projects funded through the Creative Communities Programme will see artists developing projects alongside local people in the heart of communities across Hull. Inspired by local stories, aimed at inspiring creativity and connectedness, it will lead to a wide variety of new work being produced, from site specific installations, to music and performance, to photography and film.

Hull 2017 will also be working with local artists and makers and the other established events that make it a vibrant city for culture, including the multi-arts Freedom Festival; the Humber Street Sesh day of music; the Ensemble 52 curated Heads Up Festival, bringing contemporary theatre; Assemble Fest, which brings pop up theatre and performance to Newland Avenue; and the Humber Mouth commissioning literature festival. @2017Hull #Hull2017