New cultural project for market towns given £350,000 in funding

An ambitious new cultural programme for three towns in North Yorkshire has been awarded national funding of £350,000.

The ‘Now Then!’ project, which will bring arts events and activities to the centres of Selby, Tadcaster and Sherburn-in-Elmet, has been given a Place Partnership award from the Arts Council England through the National Lottery.

Led by North Yorkshire Council’s culture and archives team and steered by a partnership of community and cultural organisations, the scheme will create joyful, memorable and authentic cultural experiences, to reflect the communities’ needs and aspirations. The two-year project begins in the spring of next year. 

On top of the Arts Council England funding, the project is benefitting from cash from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and North Yorkshire Council’s Cultural Development Fund. 

Featuring a programme of commissions including artworks, events and experiences to instil civic pride and help regenerate the towns, Now Then! will tell the stories of places and people. 

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for culture and leisure, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “This is a very exciting and ambitious cultural and place-shaping project for the county and one that will focus on people’s pride in where they live and the deep roots of the district. Visitors will see our towns as places of singular cultural experiences and local people will see where they live through fresh eyes.

“One strand of activities in Selby will be a series of new commissions based in the town’s abbey and its surroundings, spilling out into the marketplace, the park and connecting streets. This new work will be ambitious and accessible, building on the strongest attributes of the abbey and its surroundings. It will be about the people and places of Selby.”

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Cllr Myers said the Selby project will include music, dance, writing and performance, as well as visual and digital arts. A new curator will be appointed to help train volunteers, create opportunities for local creatives and commission multiple new artworks, including two large-scale works in the public realm. 

In Tadcaster, members of the community arts company, ARCADE, will be working with children and young people to create a programme of new work, predominantly in the town centre. Local communities in Sherburn-in-Elmet will help select creative practitioners they would like to work with to co-devise and deliver activity.

Cllr Myers added: “Now Then! will offer young people enhanced opportunities to work with art practitioners and participate in creative activity, with the aim of developing creative skills, retaining young people and young businesses and inspiring students to progress to Higher Education in creative subjects.”

Arts Council England’s Director North, Pete Massey, said: “The Arts Council’s Let’s Create strategy wants everyone to have access to fantastic creative experiences wherever they live and whatever their background.

“Our Place Partnership fund is designed to help places make a step-change in the cultural and creative lives of the community and I’m delighted that we are funding Now Then! It’s great to see so many partners working collaboratively on a project that will tell the stories of places and people as well as offer children and young people in Selby, Tadcaster and Sherburn the opportunity to get involved and develop their artistic skills.”

The programme’s partnership includes Selby Abbey, the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group (Selby College), the Tadcaster and Rural Community Interest Company and the Sherburn and Villages Community Trust as well as nine other local community, creative, health and education stakeholders.

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The former Selby district was identified as a ‘Priority Place’ and a ‘Levelling Up for Culture’ location by the Government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It is one of five Priority Places in Yorkshire and Humberside and the only one in North Yorkshire.

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