Make It York News

Seven organisations awarded Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 

Seven York-based charities, social enterprises, community groups and individuals have been awarded grant funding by Make It York and City of York Council, made available via the Better Care Fund. The Cultural Wellbeing Grant funding will support a range of initiatives for York residents, which are designed to support mental wellbeing and reduce loneliness and isolation.  

A total of £26,775 was made available for organisations to help engage isolated people in their communities through cultural engagement to combat mental ill-health, improve physical health, or access employment and learning opportunities. Organisations were invited to apply for grants of up to £6,000 to aid initiatives throughout the city, which will be taking place between Summer 2023 and March 2024.   

The projects that will be funded through the Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 are: 

  1. New Visuality – “200 memories Colourised and Chronicled by York’s elders” – reducing loneliness and isolation by creating both an online and physical archive of photographs and memories from elderly community groups, and teaching invaluable digital skills.   
  1. Tang Hall Smart CIC – “Friday Music” – a musical/art programme that will enable those with entrenched difficulties, such as addiction, homelessness and poor mental health, to explore self-expression, creativity and relationship-building.  
  1. ‘The Artery for Health’ led by heritage and cultural learning consultant Karen Merrifield at York Hospital – establishing a programme to provide support and rehabilitation for stroke patients through art therapy and art interventions. 
  1. Accessible Arts and Media – “Movers and Shakers” – providing a social support network through a series of physical sessions such as musical theatre, dancing, singing, playing instruments, writing and storytelling.   
  1. School of Arts and Creative Technologies, University of York – “Supporting refugees through music” – creating opportunities for participation in music/arts workshops to develop personal/group empowerment, belonging and mental wellbeing. 
  1. Converge – “Creative Writing Heals”– supporting marginalised people, and those with ill mental health, to confidently claim their space within York’s cultural offering and improve their sense of community belonging. 
  1. Riding Lights- “Acting Up! Youth Theatre” – creating a safe space for young adults with additional needs or disabilities to socialise, learn and create together through the use of weekly theatre workshops. 

Cllr Jo Coles, Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care at City of York Council, said: “There has been a huge increase in demand for mental health and wellbeing support for residents over recent years. Thank you to all those organisations who applied for grants to enhance the support being provided across the city. These grants will improve access to learning, employment, cultural and creative activities for hundreds more residents, making our city a better, fairer place to live.” 

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, says: “This year’s Cultural Wellbeing Grant projects reflect the immense breadth and diversity of cultural initiatives taking place in the city to support people’s mental wellbeing. The activities range from creative sessions for refugees in the city, to digital workshops for the elderly, through to a programme of theatre and acting workshops for young adults who feel isolated because of additional needs or disabilities.  

The Cultural Wellbeing Grants are a really important scheme to support residents’ wellbeing, which is at the heart of the York Culture Strategy. It’s a privilege to be able to support these vital initiatives through Make It York.” 


For more information: 

Brittany Guymer, Communication Executive at Make It York 

Notes to Editors: 

Further information for the Cultural Wellbeing grants can be found here: Applications open for Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023 ( 

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 corporate strategic priorities.  

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Culture Strategy 

Giant Tansy Beetle in the Museum Gardens teases York Trailblazers Trail 2024 

A giant Tansy Beetle will be taking centre stage in the Museum Gardens on Wednesday morning (28th June) to tease the exciting new heritage trail that takes place in York in May 2024. 

York-based artist, Wim Standish, will be creating the Tansy Beetle artwork in the Museum Gardens and encouraging residents and visitors to get involved with the new trail, which will run between May-September 2024.  

As part of the wider Trailblazers project in 2024, the Tansy Beetle sculpture trail will appear across the city, with local artists commissioned by community and heritage groups to customise 20 giant Tansy Beetles to tell the stories of York’s greatest and lesser-known Trailblazers. 

Known as “The Jewel of York”, the endangered Tansy Beetle has been chosen as the emblem of the Trailblazer project, reflecting its special status as a York resident given its riverside habitat along the banks of the River Ouse. The Tansy Beetle’s perseverance echoes the rich history of people from York who have blazed trails locally, nationally and globally, leading the way in their spheres of influence to make the world a better place. 

Trailblazers will be an interactive and inclusive city-wide programme of events and activities across 2023–2025, celebrating York’s heritage. Created by York Civic Trust, in partnership with Make It York, Trailblazers will uncover lesser-known heritage stories of York’s people and places, empower new generations to discover the city’s history anew, and inspire people to make history by taking up the mantle of trailblazing into the future. 

York Civic Trust and Make It York are developing and delivering the project together, leading on their areas of expertise within culture, community and heritage in York. A mix of 40 organisations, from small voluntary groups to big institutions, supported York Civic Trust and Make It York’s bid to make Trailblazers a reality. The project is made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players. 

Andrew Morrison, Chief Executive Officer at York Civic Trust, said: “Our project York Trailblazers will be a fantastic opportunity for people to discover and celebrate the heritage stories of people who are important to their communities. The National Heritage Lottery Fund’s support of our project is an incredible boost and will enable the project to reach out to all parts of the city.” 

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, said: “We’re really excited to be able to reveal the theme of the York Trailblazers trail, and huge thanks to Wim for creating today’s incredible Tansy Beetle artwork. As a powerful emblem of environmental heritage, the 2024 trail’s giant Tansy Beetle sculptures will represent and be unique to York – and we’ll be combining their symbolism with the artwork that’s created on each sculpture, which will represent York’s trailblazing residents throughout history.” 

“We’re incredibly grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and to all the organisations who have come together to support York Trailblazers. This funding will make such a difference and enable Make It York and York Civic Trust to develop a really meaningful celebration of our history and heritage, engaging with residents, schools and community groups.”   

York Civic Trust, working in partnership with Make it York and partners across the city, has been awarded £249,999 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver the York Trailblazers project.  

You can find out more about the Trailblazers project at 

Download high-res images here – 


For more information: 

Livvy Golby-Kirk, Marketing & Communications Officer at York Civic Trust  

Brittany Guymer, Communications & Marketing Executive at Make It York 

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 corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

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

About York Civic Trust  

York Civic Trust is a membership organisation open to all who wish to protect and enhance York’s architectural and cultural heritage, to champion good design and to advance the high place which York holds amongst the cities of the world. Founded in 1946, it has the key objectives of “Promoting Heritage—Shaping Tomorrow” at the heart of its work. Since an extensive conservation-repair programme in the 1980s, the Trust has restored Fairfax House on York’s Castlegate to its former grandeur. It is one of England’s finest Georgian townhouses and now a museum and offices of the Trust. 

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Using money raised by The National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.  

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund 

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK. 

About Wim Standish 

Wim paints portraits and murals, locally and internationally, and has spent ten years painting copies of famous ceilings for tourists outside York Minster. He performs as a street artist, ‘cellist, and live video artist. He currently resides in the woods near Castle Howard teaching bushcraft skills to children. 

Visit York Tourism Award winner The Dovecote Barns shortlisted for national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence  

VisitEngland have announced the finalists for the tourism industry’s annual national Awards for Excellence, including York’s The Dovecote Barns. 

Winners from eligible categories at this year’s Visit York Tourism Awards, which took place in March at York Racecourse, were put forward for consideration at this year’s VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. 

The Dovecote Barns have been announced as a finalist in the Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year award, following their win at the Visit York Tourism Awards last month. Judges at the Visit York Tourism Awards commented that their ‘attention to detail shines through’ and that ‘the personal touches were brilliant’. 

The Dovecote Barns are one of the 48 finalists across 16 core categories announced following a rigorous judging process. The VisitEngland Awards for Excellence champion the very best of the country’s tourism industry celebrating quality, innovation, best practice and exceptional customer service. 

The team from The Dovecote Barns will be invited along with other finalists to attend the national awards ceremony on 7 June at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter on 7 June, where Gold, Silver and Bronze winners will be announced at the black tie event. 

VisitEngland Director Andrew Stokes said: “This impressive list of finalists demonstrates the innovation and excellence thriving across England’s tourism industry. The quality and number of applications also highlights the outstanding range of products and experiences on offer for both domestic and international visitors. We wish the finalists the very best of luck.” 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “A huge congratulations to Brigita, Richard and the team at The Dovecote Barns on being announced as a finalist in the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. They thoroughly deserve to be recognised for their excellent attention to detail and ensuring their visitors have an exceptional experience. We wish them the very best of luck for the awards in June”. 

Brigita Bramley, Owner at The Dovecote Barns, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be representing Yorkshire at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. It is so warming to have the continuous hard work and commitment to excellence that we strive to provide our guests recognised at such a high level. It is 12 years to the month since we brought home Gold for Yorkshire at the national awards in 2011, so fingers crossed for 2023! If you are looking for an ideal venue for group gatherings, celebrations or intimate weddings with accommodation, we are 20 mins out of York city centre.’ 

The full list of finalists for the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence can be found here.   

Applications open for Cultural Wellbeing Grants 2023

York-based charities, social enterprises, voluntary and community groups are being urged to apply for the 2023 Cultural Wellbeing Grants, with an overall fund of £26,775 available.

In a collaboration between Make It York and City of York Council, with funding made available via the Better Care Fund, organisations are being invited to apply to grants up to £6,000 to aid initiatives throughout the city which will reduce loneliness and isolation and combat mental ill-health.

With applications open until Friday 9th June 2023, organisations can apply for funding to help engage isolated people in their communities through cultural engagement to combat mental ill-health, improve physical health, or access employment and learning opportunities. Funding can be used for a wide range of project costs – including everything from materials and venue hire to set up costs, marketing, transport and administration time. The grants are available for projects running anytime between July 2023 and March 2024.

The grants programme aligns with the York Culture Strategy, which commits to supporting people’s health and wellbeing through meaningful engagement with arts and heritage, through social prescribing and community-based cultural initiatives, as part of a joined-up and whole-person approach to healthcare provision.

Last year, nine different charities, social enterprises and community groups benefitted from the grants funding from Make It York and City of York Council. Spanning a diverse range of creative art forms and social activities, the grants supported everything from creative activity sessions for sanctuary-seekers in York, to an art exhibition by patients at Foss Park Mental Health Hospital, through to a programme of performance techniques to combat social isolation in women over 25.

Pauline Stuchfield, Director of Customer and Communities at City of York Council, said: “We’re proud to offer these grants again. Their proven benefits have a lasting impact on residents.

“If you’re involved with a project which supports or improves residents’ wellbeing through cultural activities, please apply for this funding. We’re want to reach often overlooked groups and support innovation, while building on the city’s fantastic voluntary sector which helps residents live the lives they want.”

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York said: “The Cultural Wellbeing Grants are a really important scheme – they support residents’ wellbeing through cultural and creative activities that reduce isolation and loneliness and support mental health, which is at the heart of York’s Culture Strategy. We’re looking forward to helping many more projects through this year’s programme, alongside City of York Council.”

Apply for a grant:

To apply for a Cultural Wellbeing Grant, please download and complete the application form and return it to by 9am, Friday 9th June, 2023. 

Application forms must be completed and submitted by 9am on Friday 9th June 2023 to be considered. These will be assessed you will be informed if you have been successful by Friday 16th June 2023. If you have any queries or need support to apply, please email:


For more information:

Brittany Guymer, Communications Coordinator at Make It York

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 corporate strategic priorities.

These are:

· City positioning and profile-raising

· Ensuring an exciting city centre· Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Culture Strategy

York’s popular Christmas Market to return 16th November to 22nd December 2023 

After a hugely successful York Christmas Market in 2022, Make It York have confirmed that plans are underway for Christmas 2023, with the popular market set to return on 16th November to 22nd December. 

Following last year’s 30th Anniversary celebrations, the famous alpine chalets will return to line Parliament Street and St Sampson’s Square, creating a festive wonderland of local traders and artisan products.  

In 2022, York’s Christmas activities influenced 75% of visitors to come to York, with 49% of visitors visiting for the Christmas market alone. Traffic to the Christmas content on the Visit York website exceeded 515,000 views, with Visit York social channels reaching over 3.9m in November and December. There were also over 194 pieces of media coverage, which had a combined reach of over 91M. 

Make It York’s research into 2022 also demonstrated that York Christmas Market had a positive impact on other businesses within the city. 87% of visitors spent their time in York shopping within the Christmas Market itself, with 93% then shopping elsewhere in the city and 80% eating and drinking in venues away from the market.* 

Applications for retail businesses to get involved in this year’s York Christmas Market are now open. To be involved, please find out more here. The deadline for applications is the 26th May 2023.   

*Data based on 210 visitors interviewed by Qa Research at York St Nicholas Fair 2022. Base: 174 visitors and 36 residents. 

For further information please contact:  

Brittany Guymer, Communications Coordinator at Make It York 


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 corporate strategic priorities.  These are:  

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

Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand  

Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York. 

First look at Snooks Trail – Coming to York in 2024

The first look at Snooks has been revealed in York today at a sponsorship event at Middletons Hotel. The 6ft sculpture will be the subject of an 8-week trail across York city centre from February to April 2024.  There will be 25 Snooks to find in York’s cobbled streets and hidden gardens in next year’s free trail.  

The Snooks, designed by Yorkshire artist Sian Ellis, will be sponsored by businesses who will be paired with artists across the UK to decorate their individual Snooks. Artists across the UK have until 23rd of June to submit their designs under the theme of Yorkshire authors. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “We’re so pleased to finally be able to reveal the Snook! A brand-new character to 2024, there will be 25 of them to find next year in a trail throughout York. It’s great to see how much excitement there is around this trail, and we can’t wait to see how our artists will decorate these 6ft Snooks and make each one unique and a true celebration of Yorkshire literature.” 

Dawn Clements, Director of Income Generation at St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “The trail will be a fun way to help us engage further with our community, not only educating people about our services but also helping to raise vital funds to support people facing life-limiting illnesses and bereavement. We are proud to be partnering with Make It York to represent hospice care in such a unique way and we are also looking forward to working with new supporters and volunteers.” 

Sian Ellis, artist of Snooks with Books, said: “I hope everyone shares my excitement in meeting the very first Snooks and seeing these friendly faces on the streets of York in 2024. I cannot wait to see the different personalities that each of the Snooks are given once they are paired up with their artist and sponsors. I am absolutely itching to pick up my paintbrush and bring a Snook to life, for the first time painting a sculpture that already feels like an old friend.” 

There are still sponsorship opportunities available, contact for more information.  

Artists can submit their designs here

Download high-res images from the event here.

Danish officials receive Civic welcome at Guildhall

A large group of senior cultural managers from Denmark have arrived in York to talk about the role of culture and creativity in our communities. They received a formal welcome on 17th April by the Lord Mayor, Cllr David Carr, in the Guildhall’s Council Chamber. The speakers responding were His Excellency the Danish Ambassador to the UK, Rene Dinesen; the Deputy Chief Executive of Arts Council England, Simon Mellor; for HM Government, Anna Nsubuga and the Director of Development, Region Midtjylland, Kim Kofod Hansen.

The Mid Jutland European Region of Culture was established as part of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017. It consists of the 19 municipalities in the Central Denmark Region.

The Study Visit comes thanks to a close relationship between York and Viborg in Denmark, which were both designated UNESCO Creative Cities of Media Arts, York in 2014 and Viborg in 2020. The UNESCO Creative Cities network spans the world, with cities collaborating on the creation of new artworks, research initiatives, and placement opportunities, and sharing ideas on how creativity can improve lives in many ways, from health to planning, from tourism to social care. The joint focus of Viborg and York on creativity, digitalization and sustainability makes this a highly relevant visit at a time where working with technology is essential in all fields, not least in culture.

York’s newly refurbished Guildhall was a splendid setting for a series of meetings taking place over three days, and facilitated by the generous support of the University of York. Working sessions saw the visitors receive presentations from leading figures in York’s creative sector, about the role of culture and creativity in addressing issues such as the increasing impact of digital technology, how best to ensure that our urban communities are sustainable in cultural as well as economic and environmental terms, and the financial support needed for success.

Chris Bailey, Clerk of the Guild of Media Arts and the York organiser of the Study Visit says ‘this was an excellent opportunity to talk about the conditions for the success of culture and creative industries in York, and to share ideas about the opportunities for the creative economy in our two countries.’

Kim Kofod Hansen, leader of the delegation and Development Director of Region Midtjylland, said ‘although this was a very short visit, the opportunity to visit cultural organisations, hear about strategic priorities at national and regional level, and to hear about the realities of working life in the creative sector in York, was invaluable. You can be sure many of us will return.’

Helen Apsey, Head of Culture and Wellbeing at Make It York, said: “It was really rewarding to meet with colleagues from Denmark this week, to share knowledge and discuss key initiatives and innovations in culture in both York and Denmark. The visit very much supported the Culture Strategy’s focus on raising the city’s profile internationally, through the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.” 

Note: The Guild of Media Arts was established in 2015 to support and promote the creative sector and to act as the Focal Point for York as a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts, working with City of York Council and Make It York.

York added to Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Status

Cultural and natural heritage sites including York’s historic city centre are a step closer to becoming
UNESCO World Heritage Sites after gaining Government backing for their bids.

Five new sites from across the UK and Overseas Territories have been added to the Tentative List
meaning they are now part of a seven site list to be put forward by the Government for inscription
on the illustrious list.

The Tentative List is published around every ten years by the UK Government. It sets out the sites it
feels have the best chance of succeeding and will now work with local authorities and devolved
administrations to develop their bids.

Cultural sites on the list include York which has fantastic civic and religious buildings including its
Minster as well as a rich history left behind by its Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman inhabitants.

UNESCO also awards World Heritage Site status to the most extraordinary natural places on the

Laura Davies, HM Ambassador to UNESCO, said: “It is great that the UK is contributing to making World Heritage more representative.
“These five sites brilliantly reflect the diversity and beauty of the UK and its Overseas Territories’ natural and cultural heritage, and I look forward to working with them towards World Heritage listing.”

Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, said: “We are thrilled with this acknowledgement of York’s world-class heritage and its universal historic and archaeological importance. The various communities in York have worked hard together to achieve this place on the new UK Tentative List of World Heritage Sites and they
deserve the recognition this status brings.
“York is an outstanding example of continuous urban development over 2,000 years since its foundation as a Roman legionary fortress with evidence of every succeeding period on its urban development. The collection of medieval stained glass in York Minster and the historic parish churches in the city centre is unrivalled. York embraces and values this heritage and will manage it sensitively so that the city continues as a vibrant, innovative, living city.”

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site system offers a fantastic opportunity for cultural and natural heritage sites to gain international recognition and promote themselves on a global stage. If successful, the seven sites would join the 33 other World Heritage Sites already based in the UK including Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall.


Notes to editors

UK Tentative List:

Birkenhead the People’s Park [Cultural]East Atlantic Flyway – England East Coast Wetlands [Natural]The Flow Country [Natural]Gracehill Moravian Church Settlements [Cultural, Transnational]Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas [Natural]York [Cultural]The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland [Cultural]

Full list of current UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK (year of listing in brackets):
Cultural Sites
● Blaenavon Industrial Landscape (2000)
● Blenheim Palace (1987)
● Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church (1988)
● Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (1986)
● City of Bath (1987)
● Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (2006)
● Derwent Valley Mills (2001)
● Durham Castle and Cathedral (1986)
● Frontiers of the Roman Empire (1987, 2005, 2008)
● Gorham’s Cave Complex (2016)
● Heart of Neolithic Orkney (1999)
● Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda (2000)
● Ironbridge Gorge (1986)
● Jodrell Bank Observatory (2019)
● Maritime Greenwich (1997)
● New Lanark (2001)
● Old and New Towns of Edinburgh (1995)
● Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey (1987)
● Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (2009)
● Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2003)
● Saltaire (2001)
● Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (1986)
● Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey (1986)
● The English Lake District (2017)
● The Forth Bridge (2015)
● The Great Spa Towns of Europe (2021)
● The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales (2021)
● Tower of London (1988)
Natural Sites
● Dorset and East Devon Coast (2001)
● Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast (1986)
● Gough and Inaccessible Islands (1995, 2004)
● Henderson Island (1988)
Mixed Cultural / Natural
● St Kilda (1986, 2004, 2005)

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