Hull culture boss sets out arts manifesto to boost the economy
The chairman of a new umbrella organisation for arts and culture across the region says he is determined it will not become a talking shop. Dominic Gibbons recently took on the role of chair of the new Hull and East Yorkshire Cultural Compact in addition to his normal day job as managing director of the Hull-based property development and investment group Wykeland. New-look Compacts have been set up in 20 towns and cities across the UK with funding from the Arts Council and support from the government to raise each area’s culture profile.
: Kabul airport explosions: Twin Afghanistan suicide attacks ‘kill at least 13 people’ Seed funding support is also coming from Hull City Council and East Riding Council with a new board currently being appointed. In a deliberate move, each one is being encouraged to create their own way of working rather than following the same blueprint.
Keep up to date with the latest news by signing up for updates here. Locally, the region’s Compact has succeeded a cross-sector group initially set up by the Hull 2017 chief executive Martin Green towards the end of the City of Culture year with the aim of building on 2017’s legacy.
Wykeland Group managing director Dominic Gibbons with Dead Bod at the Humber Street Gallery
Mr Gibbons said he was keen to avoid the new organisation just becoming “another talking shop” and pledged to develop a “new kind of leadership” on the issue.
He said: “The Compact will help champion the growth of the region through culture and creativity. “Culture needs to be a core component of economic, education and health and well-being strategies by creating an atmosphere where culture feels valued, relevant and core to economic aspirations of the city region.
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“Culture has the ability to have a powerful effect in driving economic vitality and regeneration in our city regions, propelling innovation, investment, jobs and productivity.
“City regions around the world are prioritising cultural investment in the competition for talent, investment and tourists and we need to be part of that here.” He pointed to his own company’s cultural journey over the last decade, from being one of the main sponsors of the ground-breaking Larkin with Toads public art project in 2010 to building the [email protected] Dock amphitheatre in the Fruit Market and signing up to be the first Business Angel supporter of Hull’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2017.
Humber Street Sesh spills out into the outdoor amphitheatre (Image: Hull Daily Mail)
“As a company, we spent 15 to 18 months doing a review, with many discussions and visits to other areas before coming up with what has been our mantra for the last ten years. “The physical stuff we already knew about but we realised there was no point in doing this without cultural and social regeneration happening at the same time because it’s all about people.
“So the aim of the Compact will be to use culture and cultural heritage to unite communities, encourage investment and help accelerate regional growth and sustainability. “The Compact will not put on events, plays or run galleries, instead it will be there to help all cultural organisations, large and small, as well as freelancers and individuals by making sure culture is at the heart of the economy.” He stressed cross-sector support would be vital in delivering these aims, particularly from businesses.
Great Thornton Street flats lit up as part of a City of Culture project
“Regions need a new kind of leadership for culture, based not just on collaboration within the sector itself or relying on the traditional support of local authorities but on a wider coalition of support across the different local sectors and interests, especially business.
“This is not just about financial support. We are keen for business people to provide time whether this is as trustee of a cultural organisation or simply being at the end of the phone to help individuals within the cultural sector with contacts, marketing advice, finance advice or simply to help give them belief and encouragement.” By putting culture front and centre, Mr Gibbons said companies woould be better equipped to attract and retain staff as well as graduates and school leavers.
“Culture can play a hugely important role in this.
Twenty Somethings want far more from their spare time and that is a more diverse cultural offering than my generation did.
“The city-region economy will be booming if, on a Thursday night in six, seven or eight years’ time, the Bonus Arena, the City Hall, Hull Truck, Wrecking Ball Press, the amphitheatre, New Theatre, Bridlington Spa, Pocklington Arts Centre, East Riding Theatre, etc, all had a diverse mix of events on with full audiences. ”
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