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Rural Arts Welcomes New CEO

Rural Arts, a North Yorkshire charity delivering inspiring and inclusive creative opportunities that enrich lives and connect communities, today welcomes its new CEO, Ian Read. Ian Read joins the organisation from Lakeland Arts where he spent several years as part of the senior leadership transforming participation and creative engagement.

The news comes following the announcement from Arts Council England that from April Rural Arts is receiving an increase in funding, and Ian has a raft of exciting plans to further enhance the exceptional work the outgoing CEO, Max May, has been driving for the past four years.

Ian says: “As someone who has worked in North Yorkshire, with close family links to Thirsk its people and places, the opportunity to lead Rural Arts was irresistible and I’m delighted to be joining this Spring. It’s an incredible organisation which delivers a diverse and engaging range of projects across a huge geographic area whilst genuinely changing people’s lives for the better.

“The range of partners Rural Arts works with shows how embedded the organisation is within North Yorkshire. This was further reinforced by the recent Arts Council England National Portfolio announcement where Rural Arts was one of select organisations to receive an uplift, proving just how strong the performance of the organisation has been over the last few years. This is a credit to Max and the team at Rural Arts, and I look forward to driving forward with their exciting plans.”

As Ian joins the organisation, he says his focus will be on maintaining an ethos of collaboration with our participants and leading some new and exciting ideas for the town and county. Ian and the team will continue to work with residents of North Yorkshire to understand how the organisation can support them, while being dynamic and innovative in finding solutions that have a positive impact on wellbeing.

This will be done in conjunction with existing and new partners – such as the work Rural Arts does with North Yorkshire Together to deliver the FEAST programme, which this Easter delivered thousand of places and meals to young people who normally receive benefits related free school meals. The support of local volunteers and partner venues in delivering ON Tour performances remains invaluable in helping those in rural communities access culture.

Over the coming years the reach of ON Tour will increase, meaning more people can access more performances across North Yorkshire.

Ian adds: “In short, with the great team and endless capacity for creativity and innovation, Rural Arts will continue to deliver a diverse programme of work to allow every person and every community in rural North Yorkshire to access culture and I can’t wait to embrace this new challenge.”

Outgoing CEO, Max May, adds: “Leading Rural Arts for the last four years has been an immense privilege. Having started my career as an intern at the organisation, being able to return to steer it was a dream come true. I grew up in rural North Yorkshire so know first-hand how important our work is, and the difference it makes to our communities.”

With Rural Arts being such a big part of Max’s life, it’s no surprise that he will remain involved with the charity as he embarks on a new chapter in his career. He continues: “I’m excited to be staying involved with the organisation as Strategic Director of North Yorkshire Together – the partnership between Rural Arts, North Yorkshire Sport and North Yorkshire Youth, that delivers FEAST, our programme of free food and activities for young people on benefits-related Free School Meals.

“I also probably won’t be able to stay away from The Courthouse café for too long, our Viennese whirls are out of this world!”

On Ian’s appointment, Max adds: “Myself, the Board and our staff team are thrilled that Ian is joining us. He understands what we already do, and is committed to making us even better. As we move through our thirtieth anniversary year, I’m excited to see where Ian takes Rural Arts next!”