Members of Hull’s artistic community have been expressing anger and frustration at the results of Hull City of Culture’s latest funding round as hundreds of rejection letters were received by the city’s cultural practitioners.
Hull UK City of Culture 2017 will publish details of the 60 projects awarded grants totalling £500,000 as part of its Creative Communities Programme in September. The successful projects were selected from 650 applications, meaning that the amount of rejections sent out will have carried a noticeable shockwave through local artistic networks.
Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail, a representative from Hull 2017 said: “We are working with groups who already exist in the city. People will be surprised by the range and the real effort to ensure that Hull’s self-evident creativity will be at the heart of what we are trying to do.
“This is just one part of a wide range of programmes and activities taking place next year. It builds on funding of different work already happening this year to support local projects and talent which already exists in the city.”
Many cultural practitioners in the city, however, want Hull 2017 to do more. “When City of Culture landed, someone should have been appointed who knows this town and knows our cultural people as some sort of cultural ambassador,” said writer and filmmaker David Lee.
“They should have ring-fenced the budget to cover 20 or 30 Hull cultural figures to make sure the people who helped get City of Culture in the first place were looked after and got projects put on.
Speaking to a-n News, Hull artist Dom Heffer suggested it was too early to tell whether local artists were being sidelined. “It is important to note that we are talking specifically about the ‘creative communities’ programme offered by Hull 2017 – any other work they may be doing with Hull-based artists is yet to be revealed,” he said.
“We should not react out of frustration – professional artists are well versed in ‘I’m sorry to tell you’ letters, it’s part of the job… We know we can’t all get funding, and we know Hull 2017 is not a cash cow.”
Adding that “the professional development of indigenous artists is something that the business side of culture must commit to” in order to “cultivate skills that are already there”, he said: “It now seems unlikely that the ‘creative communities’ programme will act as a supportive platform for as many as was hoped.”
He said: “Those grassroots organisations and galleries, studios and venues have, since 2008, helped develop Hull’s Fruitmarket area into a thriving and vibrant destination. I hope this is not forgotten by our City Fathers over the next few years.”