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North Yorkshire charity secures three-year funding from Arts Council England

Thirsk-based Rural Arts has been offered three years of annual funding from Arts Council England, one of only 7 organisations in North Yorkshire to join the funder’s prestigious National Portfolio for 2023-2026.  

This investment will support the organisation to continue its mission of enriching lives and connecting communities across North Yorkshire. Rural Arts runs a diverse range of outreach activities for vulnerable and isolated people, programmes 70 professional performances a year in community venues, and runs The Courthouse, the award-winning arts centre in Thirsk. 

Rural Arts is also one of select organisations nationally, and the only organisation in North Yorkshire, to receive an uplift to their previous funding agreement, which will enable their work in Selby and Redcar and Cleveland, two priority places identified by both Arts Council England and central government. 

“We’re grateful to Arts Council England for their continued support of our vital work, which both enhances the cultural life of North Yorkshire and offers essential services to some of our county’s most vulnerable people”, says Director and CEO Max May.  

Rural Arts has grown significantly under May’s leadership, including the introduction of new programmes, a new brand and website, redevelopment of The Courthouse and almost doubling in turnover – all against the backdrop of the pandemic. 

“It is so heartening that Rural Arts – one of 990 organisations admitted to the new portfolio from across England – is receiving recognition for its hard work in and commitment to communities”, continues May.  

“We know that not all cultural organisations have received the news they were hoping for and, as we stand in solidarity with them, we also can’t ignore the ongoing challenges we’re all facing – including the cost of living and energy prices crisis – which are having an impact on Rural Arts as a charity, as well as the individuals we support”. 

Over Christmas, as part of North Yorkshire Together, its programme FEAST will provide thousands of children on benefits-related Free School Meals with free activities and food. It also hopes to expand Heart and Craft, its free sessions for older people, from January. 

Pete Massey, Director North and Northern Economy and Partnerships, Arts Council England said “I’m delighted that we are continuing to invest in Rural Arts as part of our national portfolio. People across North Yorkshire already enjoy the creative opportunities that Rural Arts provides and I’m pleased that we have been able to offer increased investment to support it to extend its rural touring into other areas in the North, including Selby and Redcar.” 

To find out more about Rural Arts, visit