The Trustees and staff are inviting you to invest in The Witham and help secure its long-term future.
The purpose of the Investing in the Witham appeal is to create a secure financial basis that will allow us to draw in new people whilst retaining the patronage of our current audience. The overall target of the appeal is to secure line of sight to £150,000 before the end of this year, with an initial target of £30,000 to be reached in 30 days starting on 7th August 2018. Please support this campaign by clicking BT MyDonate and donating there (which doesn't charge us a penny to gather the donations).
You can also complete the Investing in The Witham form and return this to our Finance Officer at email@example.com or hand this into The Witham. This gives you the option of both making a one-off donation but also completing a standing order through which you can support on a monthly basis.
Make your donation go even further! Gift Aid allows UK charities to claim back the basic rate tax already paid on donations by the donor. This means we can claim back from the government on your behalf 25p for every £1 donated, boosting the value of your donation by a quarter.
The Witham has always had a remit to benefit its users, having originally been set up as a dispensary to help local people who couldn’t afford to pay doctors’ bills and to enable people to access education. When The Witham opened its doors to the public in April 1846 it was paid for by donations from over 2000 people who were mostly local.
The most recent refurbishment was completed in 2013 and since then, The Witham has built an increasingly strong reputation, providing a rich and varied programme of quality performances and visual arts, as well as offering activities for all age groups – from toddlers through to elderly people, from families through to people who live alone. All of this costs money and public funding is tight.
With your support The Witham will:
• be a venue where everyone is welcomed
• provide entertainment of a quality that is normally only available in large urban centres
• expand what is offered to include a wider range of music whilst continuing with programming that people already value
• be a local venue for friendship and community involvement
• listen and respond to local people about what they want.
We welcome any support you can offer, and we will of course keep you fully informed of progress.
You can also get involved by becoming a volunteer.
We're looking to build upon our team of enthusiastic volunteers to help us engage with members of the public and help the keep the cogs at The Witham well oiled. We'd like to hear from you if you: are looking to learn new skills, share existing skills, enjoy working in a team, enjoy working in public facing roles, if you're looking to get back into work, or if you simply want to put something back into your local community. We’re looking for volunteers who can spare a minimum of eight hours per month in order to help out at The Witham.
Roles that we’re currently recruiting for include: Gallery Assistants, Box Office and Visitor Information Assistants and Stewards.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01833 631107 to have a chat about volunteering and request a Volunteer Inquiry Form.
Celebrating 20 years with twenty paintings commissioned by Gallerina to help champion the North – our landscape, our coast, our people and streets but above all, our talent.
Date: 8 - 29 August 2018 with a preview 7th August from 6.30 – 7.30pm
Time: 10:00 am - 16:00 pm
As Gallerina comments, ‘20 twenty’ is an exhibition which will launch a year long series of events & 'pop ups’ helping us to celebrate 20 years in contemporary fine art.
We are thrilled to be starting our celebrations with The Witham, it is a venue we have enjoyed personally over the years and is a wonderful setting and team of people to help showcase these artists…All of whom, for this particular show, are home grown talent.’
One of the artists included in the exhibition is Mark Johnston is from our region, born in Stockton on Tees in 1974, he studied at Newcastle College of Art 1991, Cumbria College 1992-93 & at Brighton University (BA) from 1993-96.
Gallerina are proud to represent Mark’s work & thrilled to be bringing his latest paintings to The Witham to help celebrate 20 years in the world of contemporary fine art.
The Gallerina team met and started representing Mark 17 years ago, which has given their gallery and wonderful clients a front row seat to his incredible work and career . To help celebrate Gallerina’s new location in Darlington Mark recently turned to works in oil and ink on paper, itself a celebration of their relationship with him and his love of the North and its coastline, always in the fore front of his mind.
Brought up on the coast of Hartlepool, this region, its coastline and light are in his bones. Mark Johnston is a 'mark maker', a high energy painter, a technician, these works can be raw, are intuitive, and can be incredibly delicate. Gallerina is proud to have the relationship and friendship with Mark.
As The Witham Interium Director Shelagh Avery comments, ‘We are delighted at The Witham to be working closely with Gallerina and so pleased that the 20|twenty exhibition will be here at Barnard Castle’s vibrant arts centre. The preview on Tuesday 7th August coincides with our programme launch so we urge you to come to both, to not only plan your autumn arts entertainment but also enjoy this exciting display of contemporary art here at The Witham.’
For more information about this and other exhibitions at The Witham, please head here, call us on 01833 631107 or head into the Gallery from 10am - 4pm, Tuesday - Saturday.
The Witham are offering our local community and visitors the chance to enjoy a festival gig with Sheelanagig, on Friday 31 August from 8pm and pay nothing until after the gig, when you will be invited to put what you think it’s worth.
Sheelanagig for over a decade have brought their array of foot-stomping folk tunes to audiences across the globe. A quintet with a well-stocked armoury of stringed instruments – guitar, fiddle, double bass – added with the rhythmic energy of flute and drums and a bagful of joint-jumping tunes, these boys from the South-West England create a real dynamic which is inherent in both their furious dance medleys as well as their interestingly arranged original pieces.
Please note, this is a standing gig so the bar remains open throughout and you chance to enjoy live music without having to buy a ticket. To help people access live music, The Witham are not selling tickets for this event but asking people to reserve a place and then pay whatever they feel the experience is worth following the gig. All that’s required is for you to reserve your place through the contact details below.
As Tom Stanier from The Witham team said, ‘I saw Sheelanagig at Womad last year and no one was sitting down…. Everyone was dancing. We love that kind of energy here at The Witham and invite you to join us for a foot-stomping night of fantastic music!’
As Interim Director Shelagh Avery comments, ‘We are delighted to give everyone the chance to enjoy this lively, exciting evening of music at Barnard Castle’s arts centre. As part of our Investing in The Witham fundraising campaign, we are listening to our audience and would love to hear what you think of this opportunity to enjoy live music at whatever value you place on the experience.’
For more information about Sheelanagig, Pay What You Decide and to reserve your place, please head here call The Witham box office on 01833 631107, visit The Witham in open hours from 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday or
Come and explore what's on offer for families at The Witham with good food at affordable prices, a hay meadow and the Shepherdess caravan with fancy dress clothes and books to enjoy creative adventures.
Make a garden for the Elf and the Giant
The Playful Clown workshop
Fun in the Oven Theatre Company (who bought us Canary last year) are coming for an afternoon of imagination, silliness and play on 1 - 4pm on Saturday 11 August. Dive into the fun world of the clown where anything is possible.
This workshop is open to those aged from 5 to 105 years. BOOK HERE
little and BIG Dance workshops
Don't miss The Witham's KIDS' HAPPY HOUR (3 - 4pm on week days until 5th Sept 2018) when kids' meals are half price! With creative workshops for children and adults alike, look below for what's coming up and please do book early to avoid disappointment as there are limited spaces.
The Witham arts centre announces the appointment of a new director to take Barnard Castle’s arts centre to the next stage.
The Witham arts centre is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Director, Gaye Kirby who will start at the Barnard Castle arts centre in early September.
Gaye joins The Witham with almost twenty years’ experience including time with The Halle Orchestra where she managed the transition of the fundraising strategy from crisis appeal to a long-term development programme for fund raising. Gaye is currently the Head of Development Strategy at Durham Cathedral where she leads a team which has developed and overseen the cathedral’s strategic plan for renovation. Gaye brings a wealth of general management, fundraising and great creativity to The Witham.
As Shelagh Avery, The Witham's Interim Director, comments: 'I am so pleased that Gaye is joining The Witham to help it continue to thrive. It’s an exciting time here at Barnard Castle’s arts centre with the staff team and our wonderful volunteers all working hard to ensure that our visitors continue to enjoy the fantastic events, delicious food and warm welcome that you deserve. We look forward to welcoming Gaye to The Witham community as we move to another exciting chapter.'
Shelagh has been working with The Witham team to manage the transition between the previous Director, Katy Taylor and Gaye Kirby joining the team.
“Give The Witham a gong” says Gyles Brandreth, who will be back at one of his favourite venues on 28 July with his new one-man show Break a leg!
I first heard about The Witham from one of my boyhood heroes, the great (if diminutive) ‘Wee’ Georgie Wood. ‘Wee’ Georgie was born in Jarrow in 1894 and at the height of his fame (when he was all of 4ft 9ins tall) he was known throughout the British Isles (and in America, too) as a music hall comedian and entertainer, radio star and film actor, who, even as an adult, appeared as a child – and a cheeky one at that. He went onto the stage at the age of five and went on working until he died, in his 85th year, in 1979. My father got to know him in the 1950s. I met him in the 1960s and found his stories about ‘the good old days’ of British theatre, variety and music hall completely compelling.
He was prone to exaggeration and from his story of his visit to the Witham Hall you might be forgiven for thinking it was the tale of how ‘Wee’ George Wood won the war. It happened just after the start of the Second World War – on 14th September 1939 – when ‘Wee’ Georgie Wood and his stage partner Dolly Harmer appeared as the star turns in a morale-boosting fund-raising concert in aid of 'Boots and Clothing for Evacuee Children'. ‘Wee’ Georgie remembered because it was the first of many such shows he undertook during the war and more than 500 people crammed into the hall that night. Prepared for the worst, every member of the audience was required to bring their gas mask or they would be refused entry.
‘Wee’ Georgie Wood did a lot of good work over his long lifetime and richly deserved the OBE he received from King George VI in 1946 for his services to entertainment and the war effort. In my view, The Witham deserves a knighthood, if not the Garter, for its services to entertainment and the community over the years.
The Witham Hall has had many guises – from a dispensary of medicines for the poor to the Mechanics’ Institute and Library where everyone could access books. The Music Hall at The Witham has seen Victorian bazaars and shows of every kind, as well as dances in the wars where local children were handed prunes or sweets by soldiers. It was reported in the press that the official opening of the New Hall on 6 December 1860 lasted all day. The shops in the town closed at noon, and between 600 and 800 people were served refreshments. The evening concert was marred by the crush of people and the resulting excessive heat, which affected both performers and audience, but, all in all, it was considered to have been a great success.
The Witham went on to host countless events, among them balls, concerts, theatre and magic lantern shows, for the enjoyment of local people and the increasing numbers of visitors brought to Barnard Castle by road and rail. In 1948, it became Barnard Castle’s first public lending library and continued to provide space for public lectures, meetings, education and welfare. It has been calculated that, based on the Listed Buildings Register for England, 11 Mechanics’ Institutes survive today and continue to function as originally intended for the benefit of the community. Barnard Castle has one of them.
And Barnard Castle is blessed in The Witham. And those of us, like me, who are privileged to follow in the footsteps of the likes of ‘Wee’ Georgie Wood are blessed, too. It’s a privilege to come to Barney and perform in The Witham – a hall with a glorious heritage, a special atmosphere, a lovely audience, and, I hope, a future that’s as packed with variety and surprises as it’s fascinating past been. Give the Witham a gong. It deserves it.
Thanks to your generosity and that of others, supporters of The Witham have kindly raised just under £8000 with a view to improving our piano and for that we are very grateful. At present, the current instrument in the music hall is worth about the same amount. It is on long-term loan to The Witham and we are very cautious about the wisdom of replacing it just now.
This is because, since the fund was started, the situation at The Witham has changed radically. The overall funding sources on which we rely to operate as an arts centre have become harder and harder to secure. As a result, The Board of Trustees has requested all staff to put their energy into supporting the generation of core funding over the next 12 months. This will be essential to ensure the arts centre itself stays open.
For the time-being, we request that you to bear with us. Audience sizes suggest that we can realistically sustain about 3 piano concerts a year. We are already seeking funding to develop our classical programme and bring great performers. We will also work on increasing the reach of our classical audiences.
To help us to focus on fundraising for The Witham itself, the Trustees have instructed us to use the existing piano for forthcoming concerts unless a performer specifically asks to hire something different as part of their contract. We will re-visit what to do with the money in the piano fund once we have confidence that the immediate future of the Witham is more secure. Meantime, the money supporters have contributed towards the cost of a better piano has been ring-fenced and will not be used for other purposes.
We will keep you informed of our progress. Our heartfelt thanks once more again for supporting The Witham piano fund.
The Witham arts centre are recruiting a new Executive Director for this community and cultural venue in the heart of Barnard Castle, Teesdale. Our current Director, Katy Taylor is moving to head up a larger venue.
Ms Taylor’s contribution to the arts sector in County Durham has been significant over the last five years, supporting The Witham through the challenging refurbishment project and then taking the helm in 2014.
During that time, The Witham’s reputation regionally has grown significantly as a go-to arts centre for a wide range of genres, to both enjoy and participant in excellent experiences and a centre for nurturing emerging musicians and artists, pioneering innovative projects and working with the community to engage new audiences in the arts.
As Katy Taylor comments, ‘I want to take this opportunity to thank all The Witham staff, board and volunteers for their hard work and support throughout my time at The Witham - it has been a rollercoaster ride taking this small, vibrant venue from a building site to the popular arts centre it is today.
‘The Witham requires a dynamic Executive Director, with a passion to deliver great experiences, to lead our team of staff and volunteers to the next stage in its development. I’m excited to see who comes to help realise the potential of this venue and take The Witham to the next stage of its development.’
The Witham is seeking an inspirational leader and also a highly adaptable and efficient organisational manager used to dealing with the challenges of a busy venue. The post requires a strong record in managing relationships, financial management and fundraising.
The completed application form together with a CV and covering letter should be sent to email@example.com
Closing date is midday 16th May and interviews will be held in Barnard Castle on 23rd May 2018.
The Witham are delighted to announce their successful application for a Catalyst Small Grant from Arts Council England. These funds will ignite the campaign to fundraise for Barnard Castle’s vibrant arts centre, ensuring its viability and long-term future.
The Catalyst Small Grants programme supports organisations to build fundraising capacity to enable them to attract more private giving to arts and culture. Having secured the Catalyst grant of £30,000, The Witham will invest this in systems and training to support and develop staff, volunteers and the board to increase sustainability of the arts centre.
With over 12,500 tickets sold and a footfall of over twenty-two thousand in 2017 alone, The Witham has developed a strong reputation for a high quality artistic programme, with networking and partnerships in the sector, fulfilling an important civic role in Barnard Castle.
As Katy Taylor, The Witham’s CEO states:
‘We are delighted to have been successful in our bid for a Catalyst grant and thank Arts Council England for their support.
This funding will enable us to build on this reputation and to raise the funds required to continue to provide both visitors and our local community access to the arts centre into the future.
Over the coming months, we will be calling on individuals, groups and organisations to support The Witham with donations, sponsorship and patronage – we know The Witham attracts people to Barnard Castle, whilst providing enriching experiences for our local community as well. We are now at the stage where we can think more strategically in terms of long-term funding, to ensure that Barnard Castle has a vibrant arts centre for many years to come.’
The Witham board of Trustees are working closely with the staff team to reduce the arts centre’s financial risk and enable The Witham to become increasingly resilient.
Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England said ‘The Witham’s artistic programme has been attracting visitors and local audiences for some years now. Our Catalyst funding will enable the Witham to develop its fundraising activity and encourage local private giving support to help the organisation plan for the future and to continue bringing people to Barnard Castle.’
The Witham is a registered charity dedicated to enabling cultural, community and commercial events and activities to take place in Barnard Castle for the benefit of residents and visitors.