Brand new celebration of Northern culture and creativity launches ahead of 2017

A new programme of events to celebrate the cultural diversity and creativity of the North of England will launch this November, with a special opening event at Humber Mouth Literature Festival.

Substance will kick off with a one-off event, featuring acclaimed band The Magnetic North and award-winning architect Will Alsop, at The Polar Bear on 6 November.

Curated by Luke Bainbridge (Head of Art and Culture for Festival No. 6 and Bluedot, Sunday Times best-selling author and one of the founding editors of Observer Music Monthly) Substance will see events across the North over the next 12 months, reflecting on the people, stories, music, arts, culture, urbanism and architecture of the North.

Luke Bainbridge said: “Substance is intended to celebrate the North, but also throw open the discussion, counter stereotypes, offer alternative narratives and cut through the nonsense. Taking Substance to different cities across the North means we get to explore the qualities that are shared across region that is not homogeneous, but has multiple identities, contradictions and stories to tell. There are many reasons for the perceptions we have, historic, political, economic, cultural, and Substance is an opportunity to really get to the heart of the debate.”

After touring a number of northern cities, Substance will culminate in a weekend-long festival as part of Hull 2017 which will take place in December 2017.

Intended to be thought-provoking (even provocative) as well as entertaining, the festival will see artists, performers, political figures, social commentators and cultural leaders coming together with the wider public to celebrate the North and debate culture’s role in shaping our cities, environment, economy, social habits and every other area of life. The wide-ranging programme will include music and live performance, exhibitions, street art and installations, screenings and satellite talks.

Martin Green, Director and CEO of Hull 2017, said: “It’s brilliant to have the first Substance take place as part of Humber Mouth, an event that is itself about ideas, debate and creativity. Substance will reframe the Northern Powerhouse conversation, which has traditionally focused on politics and business. Throughout 2017 and across the North it will put artists, cultural leaders and practitioners at the centre of the debate and be a key event for Hull as we approach the end of our year as UK City of Culture. It will examine the role that culture has in the identity, reputation and prosperity of the North and the creative response to the issues of the day.”

The Magnetic North will kick off Substance with a unique performance at Humber Mouth festival, performing their album Prospect of Skelmersdale in full, inspired by the childhood home of band member Simon Song (formerly of The Verve) where ambitious 1960s planners tried, but failed, to create a utopian housing scheme.

The event also features guest speaker Will Alsop, whose awards for architecture include the Stirling Prize for the landmark Peckham Library and RIBA awards for work stretching from Toronto to Whitechapel. At Substance he will be revisiting his vision of a Super City stretching from Liverpool to Hull – a precursor to the concept of the Northern Powerhouse.

Shane Rhodes, Artistic Director for Humber Mouth, added: “Humber Mouth is delighted to host the inaugural Substance event featuring The Magnetic North as part of this year’s festival. Substance is an innovative way of connecting music, literature, ideas and debate. Long may it continue.”