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Hull set for year as UK City of Culture

Press Association logoPress Association 29/12/2016 Dave Higgens,

Organisers of Hull's tenure as UK City of Culture 2017 have promised a spectacular start to a year of events they believe will delight the city's 250,000 residents as much as the thousands of visitors expected to come from around the world.

Huge crowds are expected as the festivities begin on New Year's Day with a massive fireworks display on the Humber and the opening of a city-wide installation involving many of Hull's best-known buildings.

Hull 2017 chief executive and director Martin Green hopes the program his team has put together will combine the popular and accessible with the ground-breaking and edgy and that visitors and Hull residents alike will embrace his call to "try something new".

"If I had one message, it would be the same to everyone, which is 'try something new'," Green said. "I guarantee you won't be disappointed."

Hull is the second city to be given UK City of Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

The city was selected in 2013 amid some surprise, from a shortlist that included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

Since then, Hull has embraced the status with a determination to link a cultural rejuvenation with an economic one symbolised by the STG300 million (over $A500 million) investment by the German tech firm Siemens in an offshore wind manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock.

When the program for the first three months of Hull 2017 was launched in September, Green told the UK's arts glitterati: "This city's voice has always been strong - in 2017, it will roar."

With days to go, Green said: "The city is working together like it's never worked together before. The artists we're working with are absolutely committed to making this an extraordinary year of art in Hull.

"We're just a few days away now. We've been incredibly lucky that the residents of this city have kept their confidence in this and their faith in it to happen.

"One of the things we're looking forward to now is to repay that confidence with a great year."

The opening event - Made in Hull - will use huge projections by a range of local and international artists to celebrate the past 70 years of Hull's history on buildings across the city.

It has been curated by the Bafta-nominated documentary-maker Sean McAllister, who said he thinks the effect will be "euphoric".

"It's exciting and hectic, but it's also rewarding," McAllister said.

"For the last year, we've been slowly and painstakingly putting the whole thing together.

"A lot of it's new for me because I make documentaries so it's a totally different adventure for me. And now, finally, we're signing off the main projects and reaping the rewards - seeing the delights."

The filmmaker said he was commissioned with a brief to make something relevant to all the 250,000 people of Hull, who are all invited to the opening.

"I'm really keen to see it through the eyes of the people we've thought about mostly as we've been constructing it - the people of Hull - to see how they respond. It's going to be really exciting."

The unveiling of Made In Hull will be followed at exactly 8.17pm on January 1 by the fireworks display curated with music and video on the Humber, which is predicted to be bigger and more spectacular than London's New Year's Eve show the night before.

The events of New Year's Day will open a program that includes an array of work and artists.

The worldwide profile of Hull 2017 was raised in July when US artist Spencer Tunick corralled 3,200 naked people painted blue for his trademark photographs around Hull's landmarks.

Tunick's Sea of Hull will be featured later next year at the Ferens Art Gallery, which will re-open in January following a STG4.5 million total refurbishment.

Other highlights at the gallery will include the unveiling of a nationally significant early 14th century panel by Pietro Lorenzetti and five of Francis Bacon's notorious Screaming Popes.

University of Hull alumni, the late Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, will be celebrated with a retrospective of his work and an exhibition in January.

Hull Maritime Museum will begin the year with a look at the city's whaling history with an audiovisual installation of a Bowhead whale.

And the city's well-known Hull Truck Theatre's program will include a new play by Hull writer Richard Bean, The Hypocrite, set in the English Civil War - which started in Hull - and starring Game Of Thrones and Full Monty actor Mark Addy.

Other highlights of the year will include a celebration of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, which will focus on the role of guitarist Mick Ronson, who was from Hull.

Council leader Stephen Brady has said more than STG1 billion of investment has flowed into the city since the UK City of Culture announcement, including STG100 million of capital investment in the cultural and visitor infrastructure.

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