Joseph Rowntree Theatre launches virtual bucket shake fundraiser with rewards

The Theatres Trust poster for the virtual bucket shake initiative

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, in York, is taking part in the Theatres Trust national initiative to raise funds via a virtual bucket shake this festive season.

Donations will help to replace income lost in the grip of the pandemic. The Haxby Road theatre is asking supporters to help the JoRo to make sure it can welcome visiting performers and audiences to shows in 2021 by donating to a virtual bucket and then claiming a reward on the Crowdfunder page.

Dan Shrimpton, chair of trustees, says: “We’re facing an enormous loss of income from ticket sales, merchandise and ice creams, as well as missing out on the opportunity for a traditional bucket collection. This is why we’d like to invite you to take part in a virtual bucket collection this panto season.”

A retro-style illustration of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, aptly an Art Deco building, by York artist Elliot Harrison (alias York 360), available as a greeting card and print as a reward in the virtual bucket shake

The virtual bucket shake has been launched in advance of the JoRo reopening this weekend for Oddsocks Productions’ A Christmas Carol on Saturday at 3pm and 7.30pm and the Steve Cassidy Band on Sunday at 7.30pm. For tickets, go to:

Supporters can access the Crowdfunder page at Rewards on offer include teddy bears, theatre tote bags and greetings cards and prints of the JoRo.

You also can be a theatre elf or a theatre angel for a small donation, with donors being acknowledged on the theatre’s website.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre hits £10,000 target in crowdfunding campaign

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre: Fundraising target hit

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre has exceeded its ambitious £10,000 fundraising target, launched through the Theatres Trust’s national crowdfunding campaign.

The Haxby Road theatre, in York, was one of the first to sign up for a scheme designed to raise valuable funds to support theatres throughout the country.

Graham Mitchell, the JoRo’s fundraising and events director, says: “The fact that 165 supporters have donated to this campaign over just 41 days shows just how much this theatre and its survival means to the people of York and the surrounding area.

“In total, including Gift Aid, we’ve raised the incredible total of £10,377.50. Fundraising during a pandemic has certainly been a challenge and we want to say a huge, huge ‘Thank you’ to all those who have pledged an amount, large or small. We did it!”

Some donations went towards specific “rewards” on the Crowfunder page, such as theatre teddy bears, personal theatre tours and afternoon teas on the stage.

Paws and effect: A Joseph Rowntree Theatre fundraising teddy bear

Other benefits available included Friends’ memberships and sponsored seats, both still for sale via the JoRo’s website,

The JoRo prides itself on being a strong community hub, a venue run for the community by the community. “Our income, however, has been decimated since lockdown, meaning that savings originally earmarked for vital repairs are now being used to fund day-to-day expenses,” says Graham.

You can view the journey of the charity’s campaign and see the support and comments from donors on the Rowntree theatre’s Crowdfunder page,

The nationwide scheme has been backed by high- profile individuals such as The Third Day star Jude Law, who is a Theatres Trust ambassador.

“Theatres are a vital community hub that bring joy to millions of people each year and we must try and save these theatres for generations to come,” he said.

Curtain up on art deco Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s upgrade after £10,000 award

Joseph Rowntree Theatre charity chairman Dan Shrimpton, centre, receives the £10,000 award from the J&C Joel workforce at the York theatre

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, has won £10,000 in a nationwide competition run by the Theatres Trust and international stage equipment company J & C Joel.

The Sowerby Bridge company has replaced all the stage curtains and upgraded the scenery-moving equipment to facilitate “even bigger and better” shows at the Art Deco community theatre in Haxby Road.

Graham Mitchell, the JoRo theatre’s company secretary, fundraising and events director and charity trustee says: “We’re very grateful to everyone at J & C Joel and at the Theatres Trust for the work done. The award’s timing could not be better, as we’re expanding the range and number of shows we host. Coming just after being voted York’s Best Entertainment Venue in Minster FM’s Listener Choice awards, this is an immense boost.”

Dan Shrimpton, the JoRo charity’s chairman, believes the award will make a huge difference to operating the theatre. “Our audiences will be able to see ever more imaginative settings for plays and musicals, and, of course, the annual Rowntree Players pantomime,” he says.

“The theatre was built in 1935 by Rowntrees for the benefit of their employees and the citizens of York, so that everyone could experience a wide variety of affordable entertainment, either by taking part or by just coming to watch shows, concerts and films.

“We have big plans to improve our facilities over the next few years to make the theatre a truly vibrant asset for York, as originally intended by Seebohm and Joseph Rowntree. It really is a community asset run for the people of York, by the people of York”.

J&C Joel employees assessing the task in hand at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York

James Wheelwright, J & C Joel’s chief executive, says: “We celebrated our 40th anniversary last year and we wanted to mark it in a special way. We worked with the Theatres Trust, the national organisation protecting and advising theatres, to create the competition.

“The Joseph Rowntree Theatre won from a very wide field of theatres from up and down the country because we loved what they are doing as a community run theatre, providing affordable entertainment to the people of York and beyond – and who also have big plans for the theatre’s future.”

Tom Stickland, theatres adviser at the Theatres Trust, says: “The Joseph Rowntree Theatre is a great example of the transformational effect that committed community groups can have on theatres. The Theatres Trust is pleased to be in a position to link up generous industry specialists like J & C Joel with community theatres, so that they can offer this vital support.”

Run entirely by volunteers, the JoRo welcomed 50 hirers last year, who staged 135 performances. The theatre is used by more than 35 York groups, as well as several professional touring companies and performers.

This week, the JoRo is playing host to the York Community Choir Festival until Saturday.

Jessa Liversidge: performing her Songbirds show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre on April 5

York St John University Musical Production Society will present Guys & Dolls, March 19 to 21; Bev Jones Music Company, Calamity Jane, March 25 to 28; Flying Ducks Youth Theatre, Crush The Musical, April 2 to 4; Jessa Liversidge, Songbirds, a celebration of female singing icons, April 5.

For tickets and more details of upcoming shows, go to Box office:  01904 501935.

Did you know?

J&C Joel was established in 1978 in Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, founded by John Wheelwright whose family had been involved in the textile industry for more than 150 years.

The business exports to more than 80 countries worldwide, providing products such as front-of-house theatre curtains, stage backdrops, cycloramas, gauzes, acoustic drapes, projection screens and stage engineering solutions. J&C Joel has offices in the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia.

The Theatres Trust is the national advisory public body for theatres, championing the future of live performance by protecting and supporting theatre buildings that meet the needs of their communities.

The trust provides advice on the design, planning, development and sustainability of theatres, campaigning on behalf of theatres old and new and offering financial assistance through grants.