As this incredible year starts to draw to a close and we look ahead to what the new year has in store, Freedom Festival Arts Trust is optimistic that the momentum of Hull’s creative journey will not only continue, but accelerate.
While some may be sceptical whether Hull will remain in the art and cultural spotlight, official evaluation figures from this year’s Freedom Festival show that the Festival continues to be the jewel in the crown of Hull’s cultural programme.
This year’s event was hailed the best and most diverse by funders, national press, sponsors and the audiences themselves and the official, independent evaluation figures show they got that right.
The 10th annual Freedom Festival took place during the first weekend in September, attracting over 144,000 visitors, 20 per cent of which were from out of the region, evidencing the growing reputation of both the festival and the city.
Feedback from audiences was extremely high with 97% saying they love or like the festival, 96% of visitors commented they would definitely come again, 96% would recommend the festival and 93% scored the event as excellent or very good.
Freedom Festival continues to have the feel-good factor, with 95% commenting that the festival made them feel good and 92% agreeing that it brought together people of different cultures.
86% of audience members enjoyed the fact that the festival celebrates the city’s contribution to freedom and continues to shape debate around this intrinsic human value, with 98% commenting that it gives them the chance to see things they would not normally see.
Freedom Festival brought £5.9m additional spend into the economy with 94% of businesses interviewed saying that the festival has a positive impact upon the city’s image and 87% of businesses commenting that it had a positive impact upon the city’s economy.
This success is hard earned. While the festival itself is for one weekend in the year, the Freedom Festival team is continuously busy. Working hard on its year-long programme, the team aims to nurture and support local and regional creative talent while also continuing to attract national and international artists and collaborators. This work includes artist residencies in Sri Lanka to projects working with refugees and the homeless in Montreal, Canada.
Mikey Martins, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: “Hull’s journey during 2017 has been incredible and goes to show what creativity can do to pull communities together and make a difference. It’s awakened the senses, provoked thoughts about art and brought people together to experience something new.
“We’re really excited for 2018 and are proud that Hull hosts such a huge and important international arts festival.”
Jenny Howard-Coombes, Executive Director at Freedom Festival Arts Trust, said: “This year’s spotlight on Hull has successfully demonstrated the power which creativity, art and culture can have on a city and its people, from tourism and major economic development to creative career opportunities.
“The annual Freedom Festival is a great example of what is possible when arts, industry, public sector organisations and communities come together. We’re excited about 2018 and will continue to work hard and build on the momentum of Hull’s year in the spotlight.”
Mikey continued: “Creativity is powerful and we’ll continue to nurture it here in this great city. By creating a world-class festival and gaining a global reputation, the aim of Freedom Festival is to not only make sure that Hull stays firmly on the map but that it can go on to do even greater things. This is not the end. It is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Hull.”
Freedom Festival 2018 takes place from 31 August to 2 September 2018.