Ryedale council funding boost to make Malton’s Milton Rooms a 21st century venue

A socially distanced audience at the Milton Rooms, Malton, in 2020

THE ambitious programme to transform the Milton Rooms in Malton into a “21st century community and arts venue” is to be boosted by £193,000 funding from Ryedale District Council.

The grant was confirmed at last Thursday’s meeting of the full council, prompting chairman of trustees Ray King to say: “We are grateful for what is the first major investment in the Milton Rooms, probably since it was built in the 1930s, and the money will be focused on key infrastructure areas that our local community and audiences have identified as being issues.”

Welcoming the kick-start funding, King says: “It will allow us to upgrade toilet areas, further address the access challenges that a building of this age presents and look at improving the overall fabric and technical facilities to prepare it for reopening after Covid restrictions are fully lifted.

“But, at the same time, the trustees recognise that this has to be regarded as simply the first in a new phase of investment to transform the building into a 21st century community and arts venue and we are constantly looking for additional funding from a range of sources.

“I believe this funding is also a recognition of the tremendous work that has been put in by the dedicated volunteers past and present, who have kept this iconic building open and available to all.’’

At an earlier meeting, on February 18, Ryedale District Council voted to ring-fence £307,000 in this year’s budget for the Milton Rooms to carry out further improvement work to bring it up to standard as a top-class venue for the 2020s.

The money will be released only for fully costed projects agreed by the Milton Rooms committee and the council and its officers. 

King says: “While we are delighted to receive the £193,000, the hard work starts now in developing a business plan to access the further funds and so make the Milton Rooms an even more attractive venue for the community to use and enjoy.’’

Run as a charitable company, mainly by volunteers, the Milton Rooms has just had its Covid-safe accreditation extended for 2021 by British tourism body Visit Britain.

Venue manager Lisa Rich says: “We always welcome new volunteers to the team, particularly any with experience of the technical side of arts production and presentation, so please make contact by emailing info@themiltonrooms.com, should you have a few spare hours.’’

Milton Rooms’ Covid-safe accreditation extended for 2021 by Visit England

Socially distanced seating at an autumn event at the Milton Rooms, Malton, before the imposition of Lockdown 3

THE Milton Rooms, Malton’s community and arts venue, has had its Covid-safe accreditation extended for 2021 by UK tourism body Visit Britain.

Venue manager Lisa Rich says: “When the pandemic began, we put a whole range of measures in place around cleanliness and social distancing, which meant people could feel safe coming back to visit us, either for performances or community events.

“We managed to run a number of successful events last autumn, and we are working on a diverse and dynamic programme for when we can fully reopen.”

The Milton Rooms is run as a charitable company, mainly by volunteers, and the Market Place venue has been working hard behind the scenes on refurbishing and refreshing the building ready to welcome the public back in when allowed.

In the meantime, the Milton Rooms is appealing for support from the public in the wake of income from events and hire fees being reduced hugely since the pandemic began last year. 

Hence the launch of Keep The Curtain Up, a Go Fund Me appeal to help to fund the substantial continuing overheads, such as utility bills, heating and insurance costs, until the building can reopen as a venue. 

Donations can be made at gofundme.com/f/the-milton-rooms-charity

Malton’s Milton Rooms to reopen this month with a dose of the blues and a boat

Giles Shenton: Back on terra firma when he performs Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men In A Boat at the Milton Rooms in Malton

THE Milton Rooms in Malton will reopen this month for its first events since lockdown began in March.

Ryedale Blues Club will host the first musical event with York’s DC Blues Band and special guest Nick Steed on September 24 at 8pm, followed by Kick In The Head’s production of Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat on September 27 at 2.30pm.

Venue manager Lisa Rich says: “The whole team is very much looking forward to opening our doors to audiences later this month.

“It has been a long, arduous seven months for everyone, so we hope that the return of live entertainment in Malton will go some way to putting a smile on people’s faces.”

Social distancing measures will be in place for both events and plans have also been developed for anyone who wants to hire the venue.

Winn-win situation: Paul Winn will lead DC Blues Band in the Milton Rooms’ first concert since the March lockdown

“The Milton Rooms team is working hard to ensure that everything is as safe as possible,” says Lisa. “Risk assessments are in place and the venue has achieved the Visit Britain ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard.  

“Like every business in Ryedale, we will be following strict health and safety guidelines for anyone visiting the Milton Rooms, be they a volunteer, audience member or someone who has hired the building.

“That will obviously mean restricting the number of people who can attend an event. However, we are lucky in that the main hall is large enough to accommodate up to 100 people safely with ample social distancing.” Under those social-distancing measures, tables will range from two people up to groups of six.

Lisa was appointed venue manager of the Milton Rooms at the end of February, only to be faced almost immediately with the lockdown and the cancellation of a glut of events planned for 2020.

An urgent Go Fund Me appeal was launched in April to help to safeguard the Market Place community centre’s future and has raised £2,500 so far.

A barrel of fun: Giles Shenton raises a glass to the return of theatre at the Milton Rooms in Three Men In A Boat on September 27

“It has been probably the most difficult year ever for the Milton Rooms and personally very frustrating as I was appointed just as the country closed down,” says Lisa.

“However, we have been busy behind the scenes preparing for reopening and exploring how the venue can be utilised by our whole community. Luckily, we have had amazing support from the public, who obviously value our lovely arts centre and want it to continue for future generations. We are very grateful to each and every one of them.”

In the first concert on September 24, Ryedale Blues Club founder Paul Winn leads DC Blues Band, who hail from “the mighty Ouse Delta in York” and have been playing their own take on the blues with original material and selected covers since 2012, opening for such acts as Dr Feelgood, King King, Sari Schorr and Marcus Bonfanti. Doors will open at 7.30pm; tickets cost £7.50.

Kick In The Head return to the Milton Rooms on September 27 to present Three Men In A Boat, a “rip-roaring barrel of fun” with Giles Shenton playing the part of writer Jerome K Jerome in this 95-minute one-man/Three Men show.

Shenton, who previously starred in Old Herbaceous, will take the helm for this delightfully ridiculous tale of men behaving badly while messing about in boats. He invites you to “join Jerome as he recounts the hilarious story of his boating holiday along the magnificent River Thames with his two companions, George and Harris, and Montmorency the dog. Come and join in the fun.” Doors will open at 2pm; tickets cost £15.

For general enquiries, social distancing details and to hire the venue, email info@themiltonrooms.com or call 01653 696240. For online tickets, go to www.ticketsource.co.uk/themiltonrooms

To donate to the Go Fund Me appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/f/milton-rooms-covid-19-appeal