Hull’s City of Culture plans step up a gear

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PLANS for Hull to host the City of Culture celebrations in 2017 have been boosted by a decision to pump £400,000 into a new company to deliver its programme and legacy.

Headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson are recruiting for the chair, chief executive and programme director of the “Hull UK City of Culture” company, which will be responsible for making the event a success.

Spending on arrangements for City of Culture this financial year alone comes in at a total of nearly £900,000, including the £400,000 to cover the company’s “preliminary recruitment, staffing and development costs” agreed yesterday by Hull Council’s cabinet.

It comes as proposals were unveiled for a giant clock to go up on Hull City Hall, overlooking Queen Victoria Square, to count down the days to go until the start of the year of culture. The spotlight will be on the city from now until 2020 when it hands over to the next City of Culture.

Coun Steve Bayes, who is one of the two councillors on the culture company’s 11-strong board, said: “The future of the city and its reputation rests on this being a success.”

The chair will be appointed first, initially in a two-day-a-month role, and Coun Bayes confirmed they would be looking for someone with experience of running a similar organisation or with particular skills in communication and programme delivery.

External organisations will play a key role in achieving the £18m target for City of Culture, with £3m expected from sponsorship alone. The city has seen a steady stream of visits from national figures, including the chief executive of the Arts Council, Alan Davey, and the BBC’s Director General Tony Hall.

The Big Lottery is due to visit soon, as well as the British Film Institute, which wants to support a film festival and a programme of events in 2017.

City of Culture advisor Andrew Dixon said: “For me the BBC’s visit – not just Tony Hall but other senior figures including Peter Salmon, director of BBC North –was the touchstone of the significance which the nation is attaching to City of Culture.

“One of our tactics is to talk to people in London and invite them to visit the city; the city sells itself. What we are finding is a real warmth about Hull down in London and willingness to get on the train and see how they can help us.

“What is clear is that nationally companies want to play their part and help, spurred on by the scale of support locally, from the city council and our sponsors, 22 business angels.”

The city has been nominated for a number of awards with the business angels’ role up for the national Arts and Business new Sponsorship Award.

“All of this is building momentum and positive feeling about Hull being ready to deliver,” said Mr Dixon.

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