Make It York

Campaign launched to lobby government for urgent support for city’s cultural and creative sectors

Make It York and City of York Council have joined forces with other key players across York’s cultural sector to be a part of an open letter to government today (Monday 27th April) calling for an urgent fund for creative industries to help those organisations and professionals hit hardest by the fallout of Covid-19.

The open letter to Government is part of a campaign led by the Creative Industries Federation seeking to highlight the urgent support needed for the creative industries. The letter warns that the government must “act, and act fast” to avoid the UK becoming “a cultural wasteland”. Key players from across the city’s cultural sector have signed the letter including the Guild of Media Arts, York Museums Trust, York Theatre Royal, York St John University, Explore York Libraries & Archives, National Centre for Early Music, Pilot Theatre, York Civic Trust and York Music Venue Network. It has also received support of signatories from across the UK’s creative sector, from leading actors, writers and musicians, to heads of some of the UK’s best-loved creative and cultural organisations.

As part of the ongoing business impact survey which is being carried out by Make It York in conjunction with the City of York Council and York BID, early results have shown that the city’s cultural sector is urgently in need of further Government support. With a third of York’s creative industry sector saying they do not have sufficient capital to survive the business impacts they are facing as a result of COVID-19, initial indicators from the survey also have shown that more than 50% of the sector expect to be affected for six months or more once social distancing restrictions are lifted – with two thirds of these predicting it will take more than 12 months.

These initial results come as part of a wider assessment of York’s business community which is currently being carried out by Make It York to gauge the key issues facing the different industries. The feedback given will be used to tailor how business support is delivered most effectively to the different sectors and adapt resource as needed.

The letter forms part of the Creative Industries Federation’s #OurWorldWithout campaign, which celebrates the UK’s brilliant creative industries whilst drawing attention to the fact that more than 50% of creative organisations and professionals have already lost 100% of their income. Creative Industries Federation research shows that 1 in 7 creative organisations only have reserves to last until the end of April. Only half have reserves that will last beyond June.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure & Communities said: “Whilst the current Government measures which have been put in place to support the cultural sector are welcome, there is more which urgently needs to be done to protect businesses and individuals working in these industries. In York, we anticipate many of the 1000 micro and one-person businesses who have benefited from City of York Council’s Covid-19 Micro Grant Scheme will be in the cultural and creative sectors. We will continue to work with the Creative Industries Federation to support their nationwide campaign to ensure the Government to take action in this area.”

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York said, “We know that the impact on local York businesses across all sectors is huge and our business impact survey has already highlighted some key areas where more support is needed. The creative and cultural sectors are immensely important to York’s business community and with the city’s theatres, venues, museums and galleries closed due to lockdown, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support this sector.
“We have already doubled the size of the Make It York team helping businesses access loans and grants and are passing on intelligence around where more support is required to the LEP which is, in turn, talking directly to HM Treasury with a view to extending support. The extension of government loan guarantees to cover 100% of loans to businesses with a turnover of less than £500k is a good example of the influence we can have by working together.
“We have also begun looking at recovery once lockdown restrictions are eventually lifted. This includes planning for a range of high profile events in the city and making sure that York’s profile is front and centre regionally, nationally and internationally.”

The Make It York business support survey is currently open for businesses to feedback their experiences of how they have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and can be accessed here:

Make It York Weekly Update 23/04/2020

Welcome to the Make It York weekly update, with the latest information and business support measures available during the current coronavirus outbreak, as well as updates on our activities and opportunities to get the most out of working with us.

Bloom! goes virtual with new online community project

Following the recent announcement that the city-wide Bloom! 2020 festival which was planned for June, had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak – festival organisers Make It York are calling on residents to take part in a virtual Bloom! project run by local artist Louise Rowley.

The project encourages people to capture the beauty of nature during their daily exercise, in their garden spaces or online – and create their own ‘works of art’ which will be shared on the virtual ‘Room to Bloom’ exhibition page as a tribute to all key workers. The aim is to come together as a community to create a virtual ‘bunch of flowers’ as a way to say thank you to all key workers.

From pictures of your favourite flowers and photos of your garden to poems about what you see on your daily walk – a variety of art forms will be included. Children and adults across the city are encouraged to get creative and share their nature-inspired drawings, photos, collages and paintings. Entries can be submitted by email to or via social media using #RoomtoBloom2020.

‘Room to Bloom’, which was founded in 2018 as part of the original Bloom! festival was set up by local artist Louise Rowley, who was inspired to raise awareness of mental health issues after a close friend took their own life.

Louise Rowley said: “My aim with relaunching the project with this new virtual format is to keep us safe, positive and creative during this new and challenging time as the Coronavirus forces us into a new way of life. Although temporary; it is these hours, days, weeks in isolation where it is as important to keep a positive outlook and to remain part of our community. I also really wanted the project to be a way for us to pay tribute to the amazing work that key workers are doing to get us all through this time and create a huge ‘bunch of flowers’ to say thank you.

“We would love for anyone and everyone to take part in this project and be part of our creative online community. As with our 2018 project, maintaining positive mental health and raising awareness of mental health difficulties is very much our aim. We all have room to bloom.”

Dominic Berry, Bloom! Festival Manager at Make It York said: “We were so disappointed to have to cancel the Bloom! festival this year but we would absolutely love people to get involved with this online project which really captures the heart of what the event was about – coming to together as a community to celebrate the beauty of nature. This is a great project that adults and children of all ages can get involved with and show their creativity – and we are really looking forward to seeing all the entries.”

For more information visit

Make It York Weekly Update 17/04/2020

Welcome to the Make It York weekly update, with the latest information and business support measures available during the current coronavirus outbreak, as well as updates on our activities and opportunities to get the most out of working with us.

Make It York Weekly Update 09/04/2020

Welcome to the Make It York weekly update, with the latest information and business support measures available during the current coronavirus outbreak, as well as updates on our activities and opportunities to get the most out of working with us.

Call for residents to shop local as Shambles Market traders offer new home delivery options

With Shambles Market currently open daily for fresh food traders only – including fresh fruit & vegetables, fish and meat – many other traders have taken this opportunity to offer new home delivery options on a wide range of different products. To help raise awareness of this, Make It York have launched a new website hub where Shambles Market traders can promote their home delivery options, offers and content.

The aim is to provide residents with opportunities to support small local businesses during this challenging time and promote the diverse range of businesses that operate from Shambles Market. From local Cottingley ‘fairytale’ gin and luxury clothing, to handmade soaps and candles – the website features a range of products, with more being added each week.    

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York said, “We understand that this is a very challenging time for our Shambles Market traders following the temporary closure of the market last month and we are keen to support however we can in promoting the wonderful array of local products that they have to offer.

It’s been great to see businesses diversifying to offer online ordering and home deliveries and we are working on ensuring our website includes all the up to date information on the Shambles Market traders offering this option. Our team are on hand to help any of our traders create a profile on the site and we are keen to get as many as possible included. We are very much looking forward to being able to reopen Shambles Market when the government restrictions are lifted –  but in the meantime we encourage residents to consider supporting a local business wherever they can, either through purchasing fresh fruit and veg from the market stalls or shopping online with our traders.”

Traders are also taking this opportunity to offer discounts and savings on their products. Luxury clothing brand Copper and White are currently offering a 20% discount when ordering two or more items – with a range of beautiful contemporary clothing, accessories and jewellery on offer. 

Clare Morris, Owner of Copper and White said: “Online sales are really important for us at this time when we aren’t able to trade from the market and it’s great to be a part of Make It York’s online hub for traders to promote their content and offers. Thank you to all our customers who continue to support Copper and White via our online store!”

The site continues to be updated on a regular basis and traders who wish to have their details added can contact the Make It York team directly on for this to be included.

For more information on the traders offering home delivery visit: and follow the Shambles Market social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates from traders.

Shambles Market continues to be open daily for fresh food traders – including Sheila’s Fruit & Veg, Swain’s Family Butchers and Cross of York Fresh Fish.

For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager


Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive


Call for businesses to have their say in COVID-19 impact survey

York businesses from across all sectors are being urged to feed into a new impact survey which has been created by Make It York to create a deeper understanding of how the city’s business community has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.  Make It York are working closely with City of York Council and York BID to see how the issues raised in the survey can be taken forward at a national level, continuing the work that is being done to lobby government for additional support.

The survey aims to provide real insight into the impact of the outbreak with businesses from all sectors being encouraged to take part and share their experiences. The survey is completely confidential and is a chance for business owners to feed back on their concerns and the areas where they feel they need further support.

Survey results will be used to gauge the key issues facing the different sectors and the scale of businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Make It York also aim to use the information shared to tailor how business support is delivered to the York business community and adapt resource to the areas where it is most needed.  

More than 150 York businesses have already taken part in the survey from a variety of sectors including retail, creative and digital, tourism, IT and food and drink. Early indicators show that more than 40% of businesses believe it will take over six months for their market to recover once we return to normal life – and that the biggest concerns facing business owners in addition to the financial impact are worries around the decrease in consumer confidence, business continuity planning and fears of a global recession.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director at Make It York said, “We’ve been working hard over the last few weeks to provide vital support to local businesses across all sectors and offer guidance on the various funding options available. In addition to this though, we really want to gain a deeper understanding of how businesses across all sectors are being impacted in order for us to get a city-wide picture of the areas where we can best provide support.

“The survey is a crucial way for us to really understand the issues York businesses are facing and with these valuable insights we can adapt our resource in order to be as effective and efficient as possible in supporting the business community. This also includes working with City of York Council and York BID to lobby government on behalf of York’s business community in those areas where more support is urgently needed on a national level. Thank you to all the businesses who have already taken part to help us to start to gain this crucial insight across all sectors.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning said: “I welcome this initiative from Make It York. We’re working together with our partners and the region’s LEPs to speak up for York’s businesses and secure more support.

 We have successfully lobbied for more support for York’s 12,000 self-employed businesses, and continue to seek further improvements to the business interruption loans. The council has created our own micro grants scheme to help those businesses which miss out on government support, and are supporting free advertising across the city’s media to connect those businesses still operating with customers across York.

“So we need businesses to tell us what their concerns so we can build the right short and long term help to see us through these extraordinary challenges.”

Andrew Lowson, Executive Director at York BID said: “We’d like to thank those who have already completed the survey and encourage those who have yet to do so. It is really important that we hear from as many businesses as possible so we can ensure that they are getting the information and support they need at this challenging time. It will also help us to plan as we look ahead to support a return to life after lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

Business owners can complete the Make It York survey here:

More information on the current support available for businesses is also available here:

Details of free advertising opportunities with local media are available at

For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager


Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive


Notes to editors:

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our four corporate strategic priorities.  These are:

  • City positioning and profile-raising
  • Inward Investment and network building
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy

Make It York – Update from Sean Bullick, Managing Director

Make It York’s Managing Director, Sean Bullick, sets out the challenges currently facing the city, and the support that Make It York is busy putting in place.

This is a hugely challenging time for everyone. As we all know, we’re living through unprecedented times and with previously unimaginable levels of peacetime day-to-day uncertainty. We’re incredibly grateful for the amazing efforts of all those key workers who are continuing to serve throughout this period; NHS staff, teachers and carers, bus drivers, binmen, police, and supermarket staff – thank you for keeping us all safe, secure and fed.

At Make It York, our key role throughout this period is to help the business community to navigate the support options that are available to them locally and through government. We’re doing this with City of York Council and York BID and have produced the following guidance on the different funding options available. You can read our funding guide here.  

We are also running a cross-sector business survey to collate a city-wide picture of the issues facing York businesses, including access to bank loans and problems specific to the self-employed. This will allow us to focus our resources where they are most needed and to evidence these concerns at a national level with the government. I encourage businesses across all sectors to take part and all responses will be confidential:

Beyond all of this, we are continuing to champion the valuable work that York businesses do across all sectors, in particular where it relates to helping overcome the challenges presented by Covid 19. Please let us know if we can help highlight your business by contacting us on

Tourism is of course of huge value to the city – bringing in around £765 million each year and supporting over 24,000 jobs. We’re working hard to ensure that York remains at the forefront of people’s minds as their place of work, the city that they love, or the city they plan to one day visit – and as a world-class destination. Our team are working on promoting the wonderful work being done in the city by businesses to adapt to these challenging circumstances – whether that is through diversifying by offering delivery or online options, or through sharing inspirational content online. We are already looking at our plans for a ‘recovery’ campaign so we bounce back as quickly and strongly as possible one we are through this.

While we have had, like everyone else, to make the difficult decision not to go ahead with events such as Bloom, we are already looking ahead to plan for events that we can bring to the city later this year; what currently remains confidential, but I can confirm they will be new and very York!

Talking of which, we have turned our annual Visit York Tourism Awards into a ‘virtual ceremony’ this year. Working with Minster FM (which as all the necessary tech!) we will ensure tourism businesses across the city still get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they have put in over the last twelve months. A huge thank you to our sponsors and partners, including Minster FM who have supported us to ensure the ceremony can still go ahead.

Finally, if you think we can help at all, please get in touch: we are here to help and support and the various MIY teams have areas of real expertise as well as experience working on other crises such as the 2008 financial crash.

Our website also includes a dedicated page outlining all the current support available and links to the City of York Council and UK Government websites with further detail:

Make It York: Covid-19 Update – Bloom! Statement 31.03.2020

Make It York has today announced that Bloom! – York’s festival of horticulture -planned for 20th-28th June across the city will not be going ahead this year as a result of the escalating uncertainties surrounding the impact of COVID-19.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said: “It is with deep sadness that we have made this decision, but ultimately it is the right thing to do given the uncertainties that we all face as a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

“We have had discussions with our festival main sponsor, York BID and our other valued partners and sponsors across the city and we are all in agreement that this is, unfortunately, a necessary step we must take at this time.

“Ultimately we want to ensure that as many people as possible can experience the festival and see our beautiful city blooming with flowers and colour. The Make It York team will therefore work with York BID and other partners to look at how we can bring Bloom! back in 2021 and cultivate another exciting programme of activity for residents and visitors.”

Further details will be announced later in the year.

Make It York: Covid-19 Update – Shambles Market 24.03.2020

Make It York have today announced that the Shambles Market will be closed to all but essential fresh food traders from Tuesday 24th March until furth​er notice. This is to ensure public safety and slow the spread of COVID-19. This move follows updated government policy announced on Monday 23rd March.

Special provision will be made for those traders supplying fresh food, with social distancing measures put in place.

Opening hours are set to be 10am until 5pm and any further updates will be shared on the Shambles Market Facebook and Twitter accounts.

All measures are under continuous review, and Make It York will follow the advice given from local and national government over the coming days.

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