Stephen Joseph Theatre boosted by big grant from Garfield Weston Foundation

Stephen Joseph Theatre chief executives Paul Robinson and Caroline Routh. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre has been awarded £237,752 by the Garfield Weston Foundation to support its work over the coming year.

The Scarborough theatre will put part of the grant from the foundation’s Weston Culture Fund towards its summer and autumn season.

That programme is likely to feature a new play by the SJT’s director emeritus, Alan Ayckbourn; a show in the slot filled previously by The 39 Steps and Stepping Out, and the autumn commission of The Offing, adapted from Benjamin Myers’ novel, set in nearby Robin Hood’s Bay.

The grant also will contribute towards equipment and training to allow film recordings of the SJT’s live shows, plus a programme of community-focused “pop-up” screenings of the films, aimed at engaging those who might not usually access live theatre.

The SJT’s joint chief executives, Caroline Routh and artistic director Paul Robinson, say: “We are absolutely delighted that the SJT and Scarborough have benefited from the great generosity of the Garfield Weston Foundation, which has done such remarkable work over the past 60 years.

Stephen Joseph Theatre: “Benefiting from the great generosity of the Garfield Weston Foundation”. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“We are, of course, conscious of how fortunate we are at a time when so many of our colleagues are struggling in this age of great uncertainty. This grant will allow us to create more much-needed opportunities within the sector, as well as contributing to the wider economy of Scarborough.”

The SJT grant is part of a £30 million programme of grants to arts organisations across Britain announced today by Garfield Weston Foundation’s Weston Culture Fund.

In deciding to support the SJT, the foundation took into account “a wide range of factors, including local cultural provision, the interconnectivity of the sector, the potential accessibility of donors, and accessibility and outreach”.

Foundation director Philippa Charles says: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities, providing not only entertainment but also education and inspiration for many.

“Our trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences.

Alan Ayckbourn: New play expected in the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s 2021 programme. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

“What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.” 

Philippa adds: “We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us, bringing much-needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives.

“Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best, and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”

Established in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded grant-making charity that supports causes across the UK and gave more than £88m last year. In all, the foundation has donated more than £1bn to charities over the past 62 years.

The foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business that includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill and Fortnum & Mason. From small community organisations to large national institutions, the foundation supports charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities where they work. Around 2,000 charities across the UK benefit each year from the foundation’s grants.