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In October 2014 York Theatre Royal launched a public appeal, calling on the people of York to help raise the last £500,000 of the much needed £4.1million investment into the interior of the important and historic building. After temporary closure in March of this year, there’s been a lot of activity within the building site.
In May the theatre announced that archaeologists had uncovered one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. As a result, the theatre moved the famous pantomime to the Signal Box Theatre at the National Railway Museum, but work is now on track for a grand re-opening in the New Year.
Whilst closed, the theatre has taken up residency at the National Railway Museum in a partnership that has won an Arts Council England Exceptional Award. As part of that residency over 500 volunteers from the community took part in the world premiere of In Fog and Falling Snow, a production in which George Costigan was the only professional actor in a cast of over 200.
As well as acting, photographing, working backstage and helping front of house, the volunteers have all been helping to raise funds for the York Theatre Royal redevelopment, and bucket collections at the end of the each show in the two-week long run have totalled £2,198.17. This means the total left to raise for the theatre’s redevelopment is £100,000.
As a thank you to the cast for their hard work, the theatre has named a seat in the new auditorium after the cast. The news was announced to them at the end of show party at the theatre’s De Grey Rooms Ballroom on Sunday.
Vicky Biles, General Manager of York Theatre Royal said
The support from the community since we launched our fundraising appeal in October has been astounding, and it has been a real joy to work closely with so many committed volunteers over the last few months as part of In Fog and Falling Snow. Being involved in the production is hard work especially when people have other jobs and commitments outside of the production, so it is very good of people to help us fundraise too.
Members of the public can name their own seat, which includes an engraved brass plaque placed on the back of the seat for ten years. This can be paid for in instalments of £25 a month over a year by direct debit, and all proceeds go to the theatre’s fundraising appeal.
Vicky went on to explain more about the fundraising target
We are so close to our fundraising target now. People keep asking ‘what will you do if you don’t raise enough’ but we have every faith that support will continue to grow for our cause. Whilst there have been some very generous donations from different trusts and businesses the fundraising target has not been underwritten so everybody’s contributions and efforts are truly appreciated.
The Theatre’s Capital Project, the first in almost 50 years, will see a transformation of the front of the building and a remodelling and refurbishment of the front of house areas, making them more accessible and better able to meet the needs of a 21st century audience. The seats in the auditorium will be replaced and a new stage built to improve the audience experience and comfort. Essential health and safety and environmental improvements will also be made.
The next production to take place at the Signal Box Theatre at the National Railway Museum will be the return of the award-winning Railway Children. People who wish to donate to the fundraising appeal or name a seat can contact Edie Culshaw, Development Officer (Maternity Cover) on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 715460