I have to admit I woke up feeling rather grey this morning. A bit of a change to my usually irritatingly-chirpy-of-a-morning self, I just couldn’t shake the cloud over me at 7.30am. I could hear the wind howling, the sky was dull and my bike seat was soaked.
I was about to write it off as just a bad day when I got to my phone and read the first text: “Hull City of Culture 2017 – just seen it on the telly” (thanks Ma!).
This is undoubtedly fantastic news for Hull and on opening the morning papers (aka logging into Facebook and Twitter) I could see that everyone else was just as thrilled and as proud as I was and I found that my foul mood soon lifted – Hull yes! It’s a very good day to be from Hull indeed.
So, despite us all having a slightly smug spring in our step (and rightly so!) what does this mean for Hull?
For a start, it means that everybody’s talking about ‘Hull: City of Culture’ – the social media in Hull is at full-force today and all eyes are on us. Naturally, some people aren’t so positive, but this only goes to show how much we can still achieve as a city and – luckily for us – people’s bad perceptions will go a long way to spread the story further and make the publicity ten times bigger. Anybody who knows Hull knows that we were the under-dog in this bid race – picked ahead of Dundee, Swansea Bay, and Leicester, we are truly a city coming out of the shadows and no one really believed in Hull except the people who ‘live it’ daily.
I have to be honest and say that, as one of ‘those people’ who had a brief stint in Leeds in an attempt to escape Hull, I can’t blame the haters. They don’t see what we see – the amazing underground talent, the gallery and museum family events, the Humber Street sessions, the nights at Hull Truck and New Theatre, the Freedom Festival – even Hull Fair! There’s a lot going on under the surface that escapes the radar of anyone ‘just passing through’. Not to mention the development the city centre has seen in the past decade.
As well as putting Hull back on the map and transforming people’s perceptions also comes the opportunity for economic growth and inward investment. The victory will mean the staging of a £12m programme of arts and cultural events during 2017, complete with 1,500 individual events, 25 major festivals and elaborate opening and closing ceremonies.
There’s no denying that it’s going to be a busy one Hull! This is where the hard work starts -organisations, businesses and groups are going to have their work cut out for them for the next three years but it just goes to show how a positive attitude and self-belief really can go a long way.
So, if you are one of these organisations, or you own a business in Hull, I hope a bit of the excitement and optimism that came with the news this morning has rubbed off on you as it did to me as I tip-toed through the muddy garden to wipe the rain off my bike seat – in fact, is that the sun I can see coming out?!
Cheers Hull! Here’s to ‘Happy Hour!’