North Yorkshire – Culture and Local Government Reorganisation

The North Yorkshire authorities have submitted a live case study, capturing their work so far to bring together the culture, leisure and sport provisions and strategies of their eight authorities as part of local government reorganisation.

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This case study is part of a series from the LGA Culture Commission

The challenge 

Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) for North Yorkshire is an exciting time for the county, coming with a number of opportunities and benefits, which we aim to approach with a mix of global ambition combined with local focus & delivery.  

One of our major challenges as part of the LGR process in Culture, Leisure & Sport (CLaS) is how we manage to bring together eight different local authorities, covering seven existing and distinct local areas and one overarching county, some with current and active cultural strategies and delivery services, and some with no/limited cultural service provision or strategic focus in relation to culture. 


  • How to harmonise provision of cultural services to our residents and continue to deliver against existing area priorities, whilst also defining our ambitions for the future and adapting to a new structure and organisation. 

  • How to support existing and emerging National Portfolio Organisations in our area and create a model of support and embedding for future rounds of NPO. 

  • How to maintain and develop the relationship between culture, tourism & economic development in the new authority structure, considering the various different existing services and where they sit in current authorities. 

We want to ensure that the excellent results and learning that has come from current councils’ delivery of the High Street Heritage Action Zone initiative, undertaking major capital projects and cultural programmes revitalizing historic high streets in Skipton, Selby and Hambleton, is not lost and forms the basis of our ongoing work across culture and economic development. 

Similarly, the success of projects like Great Place: Lakes & Dales in Craven, and new initiatives such as Scarborough Fair and Selby Heritage Interpretation Plan, need to be incorporated into the new council and contribute to future focus. 

The foyer of Craven Museum


We have established a specific Culture, Leisure & Sport workstream to ensure smooth, safe & legal transition to day one of our new unitary authority, and a dedicated group focusing particularly on Arts, Culture, Heritage & Libraries (ACHL). 

The CLaS workstream works closely with others, particularly the Economic Development workstream in relation to tourism/events/visitor economy and capital projects relating to cultural development. 

The continuing authority (North Yorkshire County Council) has formally adopted a cultural framework, which was created in consultation with district and borough councils and contains the latter’s strategic priorities. 

The ACHL group is developing an interim day 1 model for delivery of cultural services, which includes existing established cultural services ‘adopting’ colleagues who currently work in isolation on cultural development, or for whom it is a part of a broader role, ensuring that areas have a contact and supporting service when the new authority comes into being. 

This interim model will be closely followed by a full restructure of cultural services and development of a new, ambitious cultural strategy (using the existing framework as a starting point) during the post-day 1 ‘transformation phase’ of LGR - the preparatory work for which is being undertaken at the moment, for Executive Members to consider as they form the new structure.  

Members of the CLaS workstream are also in the process of contributing to the Northern Culture All Party Parliamentary Group major Inquiry into the role sporting activity plays, across the North, in terms of shaping the region’s cultural identity, value and economy. 

Additionally, the group is working with Economic Development colleagues on two key areas of cultural development through North Yorkshire’s devolution proposal, and the Shared Prosperity Fund Plan - recognising the central role that arts, heritage and culture will play in addressing the long term economic and social needs of York and North Yorkshire, delivering on the Levelling Up agenda, and placing culture at the heart of market town development and quality of life - including design, business stimulation and everyday creativity for the wider community and for visitors. 

Visitors to Craven Museum. A man and a boy are looking in wonder into a glass case and behind them, a woman and a young girl are looking at a different display.

The envisaged impacts

  • A comprehensive cultural service providing expertise, opportunities and support to communities and cultural sector, with consideration given to local priorities and delivery, consistent with the vision for the new council for North Yorkshire.

  • A unified approach to raise cultural ambition overall and to create an eventual Capital of Heritage & Culture - supported by a fresh, new and aspirational cultural strategy, combined with a York & North Yorkshire Cultural Investment Plan. 

  • Development of new models to build on our creative potential and attract partners to improve our towns, to attract & retain young people to live and work in North Yorkshire, and to boost our digital & creative industries. 

  • Revitalised cultural assets.

  • Increased intensity and quality of cultural activity to drive pride in place and new opportunities.

  • Attraction of significant additional external investment in culture, raising North Yorkshire up to operate at the same level as other areas of similar size in England.


Danielle Daglan, email: [email protected]