A CHARITY for the ‘cultural development of Craven’ is to be established to benefit the general public.

The charity will raise funds to promote the health and wellbeing of the public through the arts as well as support the repair, maintenance, preservation and improvement of Skipton Town Hall as a cultural hub, along with associated village halls and other venues across Craven.

“We should embrace this with enthusiasm,” said Craven District Council deputy leader Councillor Simon Myers to members of the policy committee.

“It is an exciting project but we have to get the structure and governance right,” he added in regard to the setting up of a Foundation Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Skipton Town Hall is currently undergoing a significant redevelopment to upgrade facilities and transform the building.

The district council’s cultural service will operate out of the building and has ambitions to work with district-wide community halls and organisations for a more positive and direct impact on communities, the committee report stated.

Members heard the foundation for the work had already begun with the recently launched rural culture project.

The district has received funding from Arts Council England for this.

The project officer will work with an initial group of village halls over the next two years exploring co-production of creative events and activities and discuss how the live streaming capacity at the town hall can be used to its fullest potential to support communities.

Cllr Myers said one method to raise funds to accommodate the plans was through applying for grants.

The report to committee read: “Local authorities are able to apply for funding from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund - the district council has been successful in attracting capital and project funding from both - but they are not eligible to apply to many of the other charitable trusts and grant-giving bodies.

“It is therefore proposed that an independent charity is set up.”

Members were asked to note that the establishment of a CIO model was a completely different prospect and will stand alone as a fundraising venture.

No funding would be needed to set up a CIO, however it was suggested offering some proportion of match-funding when submitting applications would likely yield a higher rate of success.

Members moved the initiative in principle and asked a report be brought back to policy to approve the final governance structure in due course.