Arts editor Charles Hutchinson's pick of the arts and culture events of 2017 in York and beyond

Stage production of the year in York made outside York: Jane Eyre, National Theatre, Grand Opera House, York, May

"YOU will not see a better theatre show in York this year, and you won't have seen a better theatre show in York since The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time". So The Press review stated in May. How true that proved to be. Sally Cookson's devised production of vivid, vital imagination brought Jane Eyre back to Yorkshire with breathtaking results.

York Press:

George Stagnell as Tommo in Private Peaceful

York performer and production of the year: George Stagnell in Private Peaceful, John Cooper Studio, 41 Monkgate, March

AIDED by Adam Moore's wooden stage design with charcoal graphics, Ian Thomson's soundscape and Sam Johnson's piano arrangements of George Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad, George Stagnell evoked Devon country life and the terrors of the trenches alike, with a young joy for life broken brutally on a foreign field under fire. This one-man show was all the more remarkable for Stagnell being only 21.

York Press:

Pillow talk: installation artist Susan Aldworth at her York St Mary's exhibition, The Dark Self

Exhibition of the year: Susan Aldworth's The Dark Self, York St Mary's, Castlegate, York, June to September

PILLOWS were such stuff as dreams were made on in London installation artist Susan Aldworth's exhibition: 414 former hotel pillows to be precise, newly individually embroidered with all manner of thoughts, humorous and serious, and suspended from the ceiling in the church nave of York St Mary's in rows like a flotilla of sails at Cowes week.

York Press:

Michael Kiwanuka

York gig of the year: Michael Kiwanuka, York Barbican, October 20

LONDON singer and guitarist Michael Kiwanuka’s show was a magnificent triumph for a charming, proper soul man, retro yet modern, his songs feeling like they have been here forever, or at least since the days of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron, with his African roots coming through too.

Songs often were presented in extended versions, hence only 13 in two sublime hours, but this showed off the musicianship to the max, and from Falling to Black Man In A White World, Home Again to Love & Hate, Kiwanuka was a rising talent supreme.

York Press:

David Ford

Informal gigs of the year: David Ford, Selby Town Hall, September 16; John Bramwell, Pocklington Arts Centre, November 11.

THE ever restless Eastbourne singer-songwriter David Ford keeps on reinventing his stage show, for his and our exhilaration, and this time he went electric and loud with his guitar. Not quite a Bob Dylan "Judas" revolution, but a handful walked out after two numbers, more after two more. Job done!

Having bade farewell to I Am Kloot, Manchester's greatest under-rated songwriter opened his solo tour in Pock, sure of his new songs' potency, less sure of which guitar to play when, who would be joining him on stage for each song, and on what he could rest a leg in the absence of a beer crate. A squashed paper bin was the only foot he put wrong in a gloriously ramshackle show.

York Press:

Shed Seven

Music comeback of the year: Shed Seven

RICK Witter had often talked of York's most successful band making another album, but only once the re-formed five-piece had enough material fit for purpose. In 2017, they went for gold anew with ace producer Youth on their side. The Sheds made Instant Pleasures out of sight in Spain and after 16 long years since 2001's Truth Be Told, they enjoyed instant dividends with cracking singles Room In My House and It's Not Easy; equally cracking reviews; appearances on Chris Evans's breakfast show on BBC Radio 2 and Sky Sports' Soccer AM, and their biggest ever Shedcember tour. Coming next: their biggest ever show at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester on June 29.

York Press:

Martin Barrass in John Godber's The Kings Of Hull

Stage comeback of the year: Martin Barrass

THE York Theatre Royal pantomime stalwart "died" twice after his motorcycle crash last September, when he was given a one per cent chance of survival by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedics.

He not only survived, he made his stage return in the English Civil War farce The Hypocrite, Richard Bean's world premiere for Hull, UK City of Culture, at Hull Truck Theatre in March and then led the cast in The Kings Of Hull, John Godber's family-drama contribution to City of Culture at the refurbished Hull New Theatre. He finished the year, where else, but back on the Theatre Royal stage, suffering his ritual humiliation at the hands of dame Berwick Kaler.

York Press:

The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca, a highlight of Hull, UK City Of Culture, 2017

Cultural Yorkshire event of the year: Hull, UK City of Culture 2017

ONE Hull of a year from start to finish, only the Turner Prize exhibition disappointed. Maxine Peake's The Last Testament Of Lillian Bilocca, with music by The Unthanks, was one of many peaks. Now the momentum must be maintained; the revitalised Hull Truck, the renewed Hull New Theatre and Ferens Art Gallery, and Fruit at the heart of the Humber Street cultural quarter, will all strive to ensure it will.

York Press:

Sir Alan Ayckbourn. Picture: Andrew Higgins

Anniversary of the year: Sir Alan Ayckbourn's 60 years at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

THE Scarborough knight marked his diamond anniversary at the SJT with two terrific productions, one a revival of his "one true farce", Taking Steps, the other a typically inventive, intricate, period-hopping premiere, A Brief History Of Women – and no British male playwright has ever written better roles for women than Ayckbourn.

York venue of the year: The Crescent, in The Crescent

ONCE a working men's club, now a hub for music and comedy that grows apace. Honourable mentions for Fibbers, Black Swan, National Centre for Early Music and The Basement at City Screen, no less vital in keeping music live and vibrant. The Howl And The Hum's concerts in the dark at assorted locations were a novel innovation too.

York Press:

Nick Lane's A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol

Children's show of the year: Nick Lane's A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, December

NICK Lane wins for the second year in a row. York's Mike Kenny and the ubiquitous David Wood rightly receive plaudits nationally for their stage adaptations for children, but Lane deserves to be up there with the gilded two. His Dickens adaptation was even better than last year's Pinocchio, and that's no lie.

York Press:

Aesthetica Short Film Festival artistic director Cherie Federico

Festival of the Year: Aesthetica Short Film Festival, November

YORK gave us the ever-bright York Festival of Ideas, the impeccable York Early Music Festival and the York Early Music Christmas Festival, the revamped York Literature Festival, Martin Witts's cheery and lovable Great Yorkshire Fringe on Parliament Street and beyond, and Ellen Cole's tented gem, York's Little Festival of Live Music. York Open Studios was better than ever too, spread across two weekends across the city, presenting York talent both established and new.

The Aesthetica Short Film Festival ran to a fifth day for the first time, showing more than 300 films at 18 venues, drawing 24,000 admissions and boosting York's economy by £1million. Impressive figures, even better festival, run by York's smartest New Yorker, Cherie Federico.

This year, look out for York's trendy new festival of visual art, performances and talent development, York Mediale 2018, run by the York Guild of Media Arts from September 27 to October.