The York Narrative

It’s nearly a year since the York Council agreed to produce a strategy or “Narrative” 

It’s aim was to   “Attract new Inward Investment through the Promotion of our Historic Assets and development of shared vision for York”. Some of the background information on which the decision was based was redacted before being presented to the meeting.

It was unclear how much the project would cost and how the costs would be divided between the City and a local business rates pool which is supervised by the Leeds City Region (LCR) organisation.

The Council successfully bid for a £660,000 share of the pool.

The lack of transparency attracted a lot of criticism with many believing that the City’s attractions were already evident and that what was needed was a selective promotional push.

A meeting in January heard that the LCR contribution had been agreed.

It became clear that the local promoters of the initiative were “York Mediale

 The report said “The bids specifically fund the Mediale Team to deliver these programmes in order to ensure that Mediale becomes not just a biennial festival but plays a wider role in maximising York’s designation as a UNESCO City of Media Arts”.

The meeting was told, it was reported that a full evaluation of the first Mediale event held last year would be available shortly”.

The new administration elected in May 2019 changed the Councils financial commitments. The Council was told in May that “The new prioritisation means we will no longer deliver the digital immersive model or the range of marketing materials”

The Council subsequently, in September, agreed an alternative  £300,000 package of investment priorities for “inclusive growth”.  

 The Council did however also agree to fund a new project called “mycitycentre”.

The output from the “York Narrative” has been published this week. It includes several conclusions

“Regardless of age, location or relationship with York, the overwhelming dominate perception of York is that of a beautiful historic city”.

“Instead of launching externally orientated campaigns, we recommend telling a different underlying narrative about a city. A story about how York reinvents itself – that throughout 2,000 years of change, York residents have prevailed and flourished”.

“It is recommended there is no big bang launch”.

The document highlights several controversial recent initiatives the (failing) Yorspace housing development and the UNESCO City of Media Arts. These share equal ranking with the work of Joseph Rowntree and the emerging York Central development.

For a strategy document it is remarkably anecdotal.

The report pointedly doesn’t say how much the exercise has cost so far although most of the balance of the LCR £660.000 budget (after deducting the £300k for “inclusive growth”) is still unaccounted for.

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