Hull-Freetown 2017 is a year-long programme of cultural, civic and educational activities celebrating creative links between the twinned cities.

Organised by the British Council in collaboration with Freetown City Council and the Hull Society it builds on the long-standing civic links between the twinned cities with a series of cultural and educational projects that strengthens relationships between people, institutions and governments.

In 2016, a delegation from Hull was one of the first UK groups to visit Sierra Leone after the end of the Ebola epidemic  leading to the development of Hull-Freetown 2017. Slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce was born in Kingston-upon-Hull in 1759, became its MP and was  a key figure in the founding of a free colony in Sierra Leone in 1792. Civic links between  the two cities stretch back 37 years. Hull is UK City of Culture 2017 and the arts and cultural programme for the year celebrates the unique character of the city, its people, history and geography.

Hull-Freetown 2017 will feature specially commissioned films, art exhibitions, music workshops, theatre residencies, community based football projects.  It will  explore,  through the different art forms,  issues including  freedom of expression, violence against  women, modern day slavery and  human rights to galvanise communities in both cities.  It will  stimulate growth and skills development in the creative industries, strengthen existing school links and  foster  new ones.  

The programme in Freetown is organised by the British Council, in partnership with Freetown City Council and Hull Society (Freetown) in close collaboration with Hull 2017, Hull City Council and the Freetown Society (in Hull) and broadly follows Hull 2017’s main themes: Made in Hull [Made in Freetown], Routes and Roots, Freedom  and Tell the World. And there are numerous   other  partners, many new,  in  both cities who make the programme possible and bring  new audiences. 

Hull-Freetown 2017 has three strands:

Civic Links are  promoted through capacity-building projects and City Council-led delegations. The Mayor of Freetown will visit Hull with a delegation in September to see Freetown based artists in performance at the Freedom Festival. 

School Partnering: New projects will link schools in the two cities developing key skills for the classroom and the opportunity for collaboration amongst teachers and pupils in Hull and Freetown. 

Creative Economy and the Arts fosters collaborations between cultural groups and organisations in both cities developing performance and entrepreneurial  skills amongst musicians, theatre professionals, film makers photographers, street artists and allowing them to showcase their talent in each city. Another focus is on the cultural heritage of both Hull and Freetown through exhibitions and the exploration of common themes.