Duo set sights on future at end of big year for Hull

The two people appointed to drive forward legacy plans following Hull's year as City of Culture say they are 'incredibly ambitious' for the future.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Current Executive Director Hull 2017 Fran Hegyi, new Creative Director Katy Fuller, current CEO Martin Green and new Executive Director Emma Morris.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Current Executive Director Hull 2017 Fran Hegyi, new Creative Director Katy Fuller, current CEO Martin Green and new Executive Director Emma Morris.

Katy Fuller, currently executive producer at Hull 2017, and Emma Morris, a University of Hull graduate and most recently executive director at Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery, were announced as the new creative director and executive director respectively of a new national arts company based in Hull.

The culture company is currently working to raise £10m, which will allow a budget of £3m a year for the next three years to continue developing the city’s profile in the arts.

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Ms Morris, who has more than 20 years’ experience working at a senior level for arts organisations and is moving from Brighton to Hull, spent three “magical” years in the city in the 80s as a student, and said the role was a “dream” job.

Ms Morris, who will lead on finance, said the new budget was “significantly less” – City of Culture raised £32m for the year-long festival – but they were “incredibly ambitious”.

She said: “It is all about quality, public engagement and working with young people – the values and ethos of the company won’t have changed a jot.

“We are starting in a good position with money in the bank and I am pretty confident that we will have continued support of Arts Council England, trusts and foundations and some of the partners in the city.”

A key legacy plan is to get 16,000 children engaged in culture as they grow up. She said with creative subjects not being mandatory in the new English Baccalaureate, it was “really important that arts organisations step into that potential vacuum”.

She admitted friends expressed incredulity about her move from Brighton to Hull: “When I told friends they were like ‘really?’ but I said ‘come and see me and you will see why’.

“There’s so much energy and pride in Hull and I want to be part of it.”

Ms Fuller, who has been 
involved in putting on some of the most high-profile events, including the curtain-raiser to 2017 Place des Anges and the popular Land of Green Ginger, said they were “absolutely” going to continue with one of the great success stories of 2017 – the volunteer programme in which 2,500 people have taken part.

She said: “It is an amazing resource and their boundless enthusiasm and energy bowls me over every time.”

There will be also be two new large outdoor events, one in the summer and one in the autumn.

Details, as well as a new brand and website, will be released next March.

One of the most successful elements of the City of Culture year, Back To Ours, which took the art programme out into the suburbs will be returning in February.

Chief executive of Hull 2017 Martin Green hailed Ms Fuller’s appointment as creative lead saying “in terms of world-class art and community engagement, I honestly can’t think of anyone better”.

Mr Green said he was confident of getting the £10m – but admitted: “It is going to be hard work getting there.”

There’s already about £3m in the bank, with Hull Council committing £1m, match-funded by the Treasury and contingency money also going into the pot.

Mr Green and executive director Fran Heygi will be stepping down at the end of February and following their departure Ms Fuller and Ms Morris will be sharing the role of chief executive. Their salaries have not yet been revealed.

“It is a bright new future for the company,” said Mr Green.

Asked what he would be doing, he said: “I am going to have a sit down.”

The culture company is advertising to replace Hull 2017 chair, ex-BBC arts correpondent Rosie Millard.

The ad is seeking an “exceptional” candidate “able to mobilise a network of influencers at the highest level”.

As well as commissioning a “world-class” arts programme for residents and visitors, the new company will act as an independent agency “specialising in culture and cities, which not only commissions work, but offers unrivalled expertise”.

The current company will be whittled down from its current 100-strong workforce to about 20. More posts are due to be advertised next week.