Celebrating Hertfordshire's Year of Culture 2020

Whilst some things were cancelled, creativity certainly wasn’t...

When Hertfordshire’s local authorities and their creative partners got together and agreed that 2020 would be the Hertfordshire Year of Culture, we could never have guessed how the year would turn out. However, no sooner were the many public events planned for the year cancelled, it became clear just how important creativity was going to be both in terms of its impact on an individual’s wellbeing, but also in keeping communities together whilst apart. So although the year has taken some unexpected turns, we’ve been amazed and inspired by Hertfordshire’s creative community and how they’ve responded to this year of unprecedented challenges and made HYOC2020 a year to celebrate, share and explore Hertfordshire as a county of creative and cultural opportunity.

As December is our Celebrate and Illuminate month we’ve taken this opportunity to reflect on the year and use our monthly themes to share some of our personal highlights. Don’t forget to use the links below to have a look at our monthly newsletters and find your own favourites.

Creative Hertfordshire

Creative Hertfordshire is a free to access website for anyone interested in creativity across the county and has acted as our What’s ON guide throughout HYOC2020. If you’re a creator or a local organisation running an event, make a free profile and share your plans. The site also has a What’s ONLINE section with a wide range of local and national resources to keep everyone busy into 2021 and beyond.

January to March: Try Something New, Skills Development and Access the Arts

In January we ‘Tried Something New’ by joining in the daily #JanuaryChallenge from 64 Million Artists. February saw us finding ways for ‘Skills Development’ whilst celebrating our fabulous volunteers whilst during March we all ‘Accessed the Arts’, culminating in the fantastic Hertfordshire Music Service Schools Gala which saw 2,500 young people gathered in the world famous Royal Albert Hall to sing, dance and play their instruments to a packed audience of parents and dignitaries. YOCI our mascot enjoyed herself too!

April to June: Go Somewhere Local, The Big Outdoors and Big Ideas

National lockdown meant ‘Go Somewhere Local’ became everyone’s mantra for April. We launched our What’s ONLINE section on Creative Hertfordshire, clapped for carers and saw the Secret Society of Hertford Crafters use their skills to support local charities as they crocheted and auctioned off miniature key workers! During May the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust showed us how to celebrate the ‘Big Outdoors’ by being #WildatHome, and in June the ‘Big Idea’ saw the flagship University of Hertfordshire ‘Festival of Ideas Reimagined’ which allowed us to bring over 60 online events into our homes.

July to September: Cultural Olympiad, Families and Friends, Heritage and History and Meet the Maker

In July, pupils enjoyed the ‘Cultural Olympiad’ by taking part in the virtual Herts School Games and we asked you to designed an Olympic Kit for YOCI our mascot – the winning entry came from Harmoni Wearn, aged 7. August saw us celebrating Hertfordshire Pride, dancing along to our Pride Playlist and considering just what ‘Friends and Family’ mean to us in our Creative Writing Competition. In September we ‘Met the Maker’ through Herts Visual Arts’ first ever Virtual Open Studios and celebrated our heritage assets with the HYOC2020 Museum Object of the Year, won by the fabulous Champion Skye Terrier Wolverley Chummie, from the Natural History Museum, Tring.

October to December: Be Inspired, Get Back Into, Creative Minds and Creative Industries and Celebrate and Illuminate

October provided us with a brief opportunity to ‘Get Back Into’ our local creative venues and to reflect on the events of the summer by sharing stories as part of Black History Month including the beautiful mural anonymously drawn in Welwyn Garden City. November saw us celebrating the contribution of the Creative Industries to our county and how local people can find their niche, whilst in December we’ll be sharing the wonderful ways that our community is celebrating the festive season.

We Are Creative Hertfordshire

Looking forward, we’ve recognised the benefits that coming together as a creative community has brought to our county over the last year. We also know that many of the planned events for 2020 weren’t able to take place. So, with this in mind, we have worked to bring something new and exciting for 2021. Watch out for more information over the next few months.

So there you have it! Our highlights of a year which has truly demonstrated the creativity of local people and the importance of culture and heritage. Don’t forget to choose your own highlights and find out more about the HYOC2020 campaign by visiting Creative Hertfordshire.