A MAJOR new arts development is on the way - should National Lottery chiefs look favourably on the project.

Rural Arts North Yorkshire (Rany) left its cramped premises and moved into thee old courthouse in Thirsk, in March last year.

Now its members have submitted an application for £300,000 worth of Lottery funding to transform the building's interior.

The idea is to provide not only well-resourced office and studio space, but also to give the building greater flexibility, with areas for performances, workshops, meetings and training.

"These plans are part of an intended move towards placing ourselves as a resource for the communities and people we work with and for," said a spokesman yesterday.

"The development of the courthouse will hopefully enable us to play a more strategic role in the development of the arts in North Yorkshire.

"We foresee being able to serve our 'community' by bringing together facilities, expertise, contacts, information, advice and resources, all under one roof."

The spokesman added: "It is anticipated that our role as advocate will develop alongside our existing aims of bringing challenging and participatory arts projects to rural communities and the continuing On Tour show programme."

As part of the development, Rany also plans to set up a website, which will further improve access to their skills.

It will include an artist's database giving people direct access to information and allowing them to become more self-sufficient in initiating their own arts projects.

To that end the organisation is now appealing for any artists, arts consultants or trainers interested in working in a community context, and who would like to be included, to contact them.

Information should be sent by e-mail to info