Professor Glenn Burgess

Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Hull; Professor of History; Director and Trustee of Hull 2017 City of Culture.

See accompanying slides here.

As a principal partner in the UK City of Culture this is an important year for the university. I would like to say a little bit about the university’s partnership in the UK City of Culture, why we’ve done it, what we hope to get out of it and how it’s going so far.

In governing our relationship with the UK City of Culture we’ve divided into five work streams, including cultural programme. About one quarter of the events listed in the first Hull2017 programme took place campus and involved staff and students from many different areas of the university and we’re the lead partner for the evaluation of City of Culture.

Our ambitions are to deliver world class culture; to raise the aspirations of staff and students and give their creativity the opportunity to shine; to develop challenging research that explores and debates the impact of culture; to develop engaging communications on the basis of Hull2017; and to integrate culture more effectively, through partnership with cultural organisations, into the way in which the university engages with communities, businesses and the wider world.

The university has developed a number of key performance indicators.

In the year so far we’ve certainly development lots of events though partnership, engaging with a broad spectrum of groups.  For example, Girls, a small theatre company that is made up largely of our own graduates, is giving multiple high-profile performances throughout the year. We found a platform for promoting some of our own research interests, including work on digital dystopia and dystopia generally. We worked with the National Portrait Gallery on an exhibition, and with an international sculptor on the creation of a sculpture trail.  We are part of Freedom Festival and will be co-creating the Freedom Summit.  These are just a small taste of the range of the university’s cultural provision over the year.

In terms of audience figures, there’s been an increase way beyond expectations. We’ve had about 50,000 people on campus to see events, the most successful so far being our work with the British Museum, which drew in over 2,000 people. These figures are about halfway through the year and are already double the total number of people on campus last year.

We aimed for £2m advertising equivalent coverage and so far we have had £9m.  Activity such as the Radio 1 Big Weekend had an enormous reach. Securing student involvement has been a challenge, particularly through volunteering, though they are doing fringe events and are getting involved in other ways – Radio 1’s Big Weekend attracted significant numbers. Staff have been involved as volunteers, participants and programmers.

The evaluation of Hull2017 will report on impact areas including the reach of activity; the level of engagement with the cultural industries sector; place making and its impact on visitor economy; the impact on wellbeing including health, inclusion, a sense of citizenship; and partnerships, development and legacy.

At this point we are most focused on legacy – what’s going to happen next. We know that 2017 is going to be a great success. We’ll be announcing some findings from the initial interim evaluation week commencing 26 June. The city is well on track in achieving its objectives for 2017, but it’s what happens later that matters most. It’s completing that transition from 2017, a year that is events based, to communicating the message that Hull is a great place to come.

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