Hooray for the Hollywood Sisters as they raise funds for York Mind at Friday concert with musical friends at Theatre@41

The Hollywood Sisters: Cat Foster, left, Rachel Higgs, Helen ‘Bells’ Spencer and Henrietta Linnemann

THE Hollywood Sisters will be joined by friends for a night of musical cabaret in aid of York Mind at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, on Friday at 7.30pm.

The luscious close harmonies of the Hollywood Sisters will be complemented by guest appearances from “the finest talent York has to offer”: The Rusty Pegs, Jennie Wogan-Wells, Richard Bayton, Nicola Holliday, Matthew Clare, Connie Howcroft, John Haigh and Mark Lovell.

“Expect an evening of music, song and sprinkle of festive cheer to kick off December,” says Hollywood Sister Helen ‘Bells’ Spencer. “All profits from the evening will go to mental health charity York Mind.”

Richard Bayton, left, and John Haigh: Guest singers at the Hollywood Sisters And Friends charity concert

The Hollywood Sisters, Cat Foster, Henrietta Linnemann, Rachel Higgs and Bells, met in 2020 when they were cast together in York Musical Theatre Company’s Hooray For Hollywood, Paul Laidlaw’s nostalgic, whirlwind journey through the sounds of a bygone era from the MGM, Warner Bros, RKO and Universal studios, staged that November at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

“We instantly forged a special bond and after the show finished, we kept in close contact,” says Bells. “Many meet-ups over tea and cake later, the Hollywood Sisters were devised.

“In honour of the show we met on, and because we all have a shared love of vintage glamour, we kept the Hollywood part of our name and style as a group. Now we’re delighted to be welcoming back John Haigh and Richard Bayton, who were also in Hooray For Hollywood. We can’t wait to all be singing together again!

“Added to these crooners, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have guest appearances from three phenomenal female vocalists, Jennie, Connie and Nicola, and we’ll all be accompanied by the brilliant Rusty Pegs, Matthew Clare on piano and Mark Lovell on double bass.”

“We instantly forged a special bond,” says Helen ‘Bells’ Spencer, left, one that led to the Hollywood Sisters’ formation

Friday promises a relaxed cabaret-style event with the bar open throughout. “There’ll be music from across genres but always featuring gorgeous harmonies and a few festive numbers to get December started with some cheer!” says Bells.

“We also have a raffle with some amazing prizes to be won: £100 meal voucher, Tea for Two in Malton, art prints, Prosecco and much more. If you can’t make the gig but would like to buy a raffle ticket to support York Mind, please head to our just giving page and leave your email address.”


“Due to popular demand, we’ve added a few extra tickets, so grab them before they’re gone,” advises Bells. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

The poster artwork for Hollywood Sisters And Friends at Theatre@41, Monkgate on Friday night

Educated Vandals graffiti artists take over Low Ousegate building to create fund-raising installation for York Mind

York artist Lincoln Lightfoot’s poster for the Educated Vandals installation project in aid of York Mind

ACE graffiti artists from across Britain will be gathering in York for the next three weekends to make Educated Vandals at one of the city’s tallest buildings, 2 Low Ousegate.

In a fusion of art and community, not-for-profit York arts organisation Bombsquad will bring together diverse artists to create a live street installation to raise funds and awareness for mental health charity York Mind while “pushing the boundaries of creativity to elevate your senses”.

Unleashing a whirlwind of colour, imagination, storytelling and urban magic from July 15, the event will showcase the talents of internationally acclaimed artists RoWdY, Mighty Mo, Listen04, James Jessop, Mul, Prefab and Dan Cimmermann.

They will be complemented by York artists Sharon McDonagh, Lincoln Lightfoot, BOXXHEAD, Steve Bottrill, SOLA and Michael Dawson plus special guests.

Last year, a Bombsquad Urban and Contemporary Art Timed Auction raised £20,000 for York Food Bank. Now, at this month’s Educated Vandals event, visitors will experience the transformation of the top two floors of the Low Ousegate building ahead of their redevelopment. Both floors will come alive with vibrant street art at this rare creative union of influential artists in the graffiti world.

“Watch them transform an iconic yet unloved and abandoned space into a living, breathing art gallery that reflects the power of street art in creating positive change,” says York artist Sharon McDonagh, one of the organisers.

York artist Sharon McDonagh

“With permission, we’ve taken over two floors of this big empty office block, where some of the top street artists in the country have given their time to create amazing wall pieces and roof art, collaborating with my crew of York artists.

“We open to the public on Saturday from 10am to 6pm and will be open for three weekends. There’ll be some stunning art on the walls, a gallery, a shop and live DJ for the event too.  I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this in York before, not on this scale anyway, with this many headliners.

“York businesses have been so supportive, giving their time and money to ensure that the event is a success. It’s been an amazing experience so far, and we’ve not even opened yet!”

Some of the art installation may be retained by the new developer to enhance the new apartments planned for both floors.

“We believe that art has the power to unite and transform lives,” says Sharon. “The Educated Vandals event is a powerful creative platform to raise awareness about mental health while providing an opportunity for artists to share their talent with the world.

“By harnessing the positive energy of street art, we hope to raise funds and awareness for York Mind to provide a new art space that will help improve mental health in our community. York Mind have been at the forefront of mental health locally since 2011 and their tireless local support makes a real difference to people’s lives.

York artist and Educated Vandals poster designer Lincoln Lightfoot

“By coming together to support York Mind, we can create a lasting impact in the lives of those affected by mental health challenges.”

Educated Vandals will run on July 15 and 16, 21 to 23 and 28 to 30, allowing ample opportunity for art enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the installation.

“The event will provide an interactive and engaging experience with opportunities for visitors to engage with artists, participate in a raffle and explore a wide selection of street art merchandise in our shop with proceeds going to York Mind,” says Sharon. Entry is free but a donation will be encouraged.

To maximise fundraising efforts for York’s mental health resources, an auction of paintings after the event will be held by Tennants Auctioneers. Limited-edition posters signed by all the artists will raise more funds for the charity.

“Join us in this unique experiential event featuring some of the best street artists in the world to create a more promising future for mental health in York,” says Sharon. “To contribute to our fundraising campaign, kindly make a donation on our JustGiving page.”

James Shipley, York Mind’s community and events fundraiser, says: “All of us at York Mind are delighted to have such amazing art work being created in aid of us and for theservices we operate. It’s fantastic to see such inspiring talent and creativity being utilised towards supporting people in York.

“We’d like to thank those at Bombsquad for organising this exhibition, and we can’t wait to see it in person.”

The Bombsquad logo

Bombsquad: the back story

THIS not-for-profit York community arts organisation focuses on street art and enhancing the city’s cultural landscape while raising funds for York charities.

Applying a “grassroots and authentic approach”, its core members bring decades of experience in the art world.

Its inaugural family-friendly outdoor arts event, the free Tempting Fete in June 2021, raised £1,600 in eight hours for York Food Bank. Despite the pandemic, it had a dystopian theme with black bunting, vandalised oil paintings and balloons.

Renowned street artists were invited to create artworks on the venue walls, engaging the local community. In addition, a charity art raffle featured prizes from Banksy, Phlegm, and Sweet Toof. The event included food, music, a bar, a children’s art competition and art for sale too.

Last October, Bombsquad organised Totally Hammered, a charity art auction held in collaboration with Tennants Auctioneers. Thirty-seven artists contributed artworks, and a ticketed fundraising party, where the art was on display, raised more than £20,000 for York Food Bank.

BombSquad comprises five artists and art collectors based in and beyond York.

What is York Mind?

IN 2011, the merger of Our Celebration and York District Mind gave rise to York Mind.

These two organisations had made a significant impact over a combined 84 years by assisting thousands of individuals on their journey towards mental well-being.

As an independent York charity dedicated to mental health, its primary objective is to empower those facing mental illness to embark on a path to recovery.

York Mind believes in the principle that a person should not be defined by their condition. Its recovery model encompasses every facet of a client’s life, encompassing personal, social and professional spheres.