Rosie Millard, Hull and City of Culture

When Hull won the bid for City of Culture 2017 Rosie Millard could have been forgiven for climbing to the top of the building she was in at the time and screaming about it with sheer excitement.

She may have been born and raised in Wimbledon but she has enduring memories of her adopted city from her time studying English and Drama at University of Hull.

Now talking to me in the bar area of the Holiday Inn on the marina she cuts a very relaxed figure but one which has a burning desire bubbling just under the surface. It is a desire to see Hull as a place of growth and economic stability in 2017 and beyond.

Upon being asked how the plans are going so far for Hull’s year in the spotlight she says “The plans are going very well so far.

She continues to tell me “The year will be broken up into 4 quarters based on Hull, the first quarter will be Made in Hull, the second is Roots and Routes, the third is Freedom and will tie in with the Freedom Festival and the final quarter will be based on Quirkey and Hullness.

Going more in depth she says that the first quarter is all about things that have come from Hull such as bridges and works of art. She also explains that the second quarter is more about Hull’s heritage, what it’s known for and why people want to come here because it’s removed enough from the glare of London and has its own identity.

The third quarter is to be based around the exploits of William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery and the final quarter will be celebrating Hull’s quirks like cream telephone boxes.

“We’ve looked at the bid to see what made it so strong and why Hull won and now we’re expanding on it.

Telling me that it will be totally unique and will not resemble anything like what places like Liverpool and Derry did in their year in the spotlight she says “It will be great that all the events will only be seen in Hull.

Continuing with great excitement she says “UK City of Culture is for places that have had economic difficulty but now you can see the growth that Hull is attracting.

“We won’t build a hotel in Hull but I would think that somebody will now.”

I asked her what she thinks to what’s happening at Hull Truck Theatre with the announcement of them receiving an 8th bailout in 4 years, she replied “Many contemporary theatres are regularly in trouble and it was always going to be difficult moving from Spring Street but Mark Babych is a great artistic director and I’m sure he’ll get it back on an even keel.”

She also tells me that Rufus Sewell is the man behind the recently announced deal between the National Theatre and Hull and says it’s great that they will bring more great shows to venues like Hull New Theatre.

She says that having Hull City in the Premier League has also brought growth and she thinks Steve Bruce is a great manager and that he will get them away from the relegation zone.

Asking her about rugby league she answers with great purpose “I think it’s fantastic that Hull has 2 Super League teams. Rugby is very strong and important in Hull and it’s great that there are 2 teams who are so connected to different areas of the city.”

She also reminds me of Hull Stingrays Ice Hockey team saying “My son loves Ice Hockey.”

Asking her about Kardomah 94 and what might a small place like that bring to the party Rosie tells me “It has a lot of potential, Malcolm Scott has got some great plans there like a projection from across the road onto the outside of the building.”

Mentioning her comments about how she thought “Grafton Street was the coolest place to live in Hull” when she was studying at the university she says “Yes it was, with Paul Heaton at one end and Roland Gift at the other.”

I ask her what she thinks to the culture here now and if it is as exciting now as it was in 1984 and she assures me it’s every bit as exciting now and more.

She also tells me that when she was studying here that there was nothing on the marina and says it is now an amazing place.

The overriding fact that has come out of our conversation seems very much to be that City of Culture is about engaging with the people here and not from anywhere else, Rosie Millard is one very energetic cog in what appears to be a very well oiled machine, and with her boundless enthusiasm for the job at hand I believe Hull really can’t go far wrong.

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