About Joseph Rowntree Theatre
Front view of Joseph Rowntree Theatre
© 2008 Sarah Tweedie
The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, was designed by the well-known architect Barry Parker, and built in 1935. It was then known as The Joseph Rowntree Hall, but was renamed The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in 1946. It was built at a total cost of £12,000, which was provided by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trustees. Simple architectural features, combined with a warm colour scheme and hidden lighting, were designed to give an intimate and welcoming atmosphere to the 450 seater auditorium. The hall was equipped with the most up to date acoustics, lighting and heating system and a magnificent curved cyclorama.
Apart from a period during World War II, when the building was used for war work, the theatre has been in constant use for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.
The hall was opened on 18 November 1935 by Seebohm Rowntree, Chairman of the then Rowntree & Co Limited, with the aim of providing a hall which may be a fitting centre for those recreational and educational activities which make for a full and happy life.
This aim is still apposite today. Under the direction of the Charity Commission’s guidelines and its own Constitution, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Board continues to provide a facility for the benefit of local operatic and drama groups, schools and other relevant youth organisations.
Current OrganisationThe opportunity arose in 2001 for the theatre to be run independently. With the support of Nestlé UK a charitable trust was established to oversee the running of the theatre. After a two-year set up period the charitable trust secured a long-term lease to managed and operate the Joseph Rowntree Theatre as a community facility. The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Limited was incorporated on 12 March 2003 and registered charity status granted on 2 July 2003. Since then, the charitable trust has instigated a number of improvements to ensure the continued operation of the theatre for the future.
The objectives of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Limited are:-
- The provision of an affordable facility for the use of the community of the City of York and its surrounds for the presentation of the dramatic arts both as performers and as an audience.
- To provide an important meeting and social venue for the community
- The advancement of education in the performing arts in the City of York