Friends of The Kirk Theatre


Your story

A community theatre and performance arts centre, for all.

Group introduction

Our aim for The Kirk Theatre is that amateur theatre in Pickering is successful and sustainable. By providing a range of opportunities (not necessarily performance related) for people to develop their skills and enjoy taking part, at all levels. Our objectives are to promote, improve, develop and maintain public education in and appreciation, of the art and science of music in all its aspects. This is done by the presentation of public performances and events. The theatre's history goes back to the early 1900s when Pickering Musical Society, who owns the theatre, was formed. The theatre was transformed from an unused Methodist chapel, into the extensive theatre building that it is today, almost entirely through volunteer labour.

The Kirk Theatre opened in 1983 and Pickering Musical Society has put on a minimum of 3 productions a year ever since. Productions include musicals, plays, pantomimes and revues. In the past 10 years, still with only volunteers, including the theatre manager and committee, running the theatre, we have developed the building as a venue for a wide range of visiting productions. These include tribute acts, comedy nights, singers of all genres, plays, children's shows, choirs and the annual Ryedale Festival. Local groups such as schools and flower arranging societies, also hire the theatre for their events. We also hire our various spaces within the theatre for workshops, fundraising events and meetings. More recently we have begun to offer a pilot scheme of holding film shows, one day each month. This includes a matinee and evening performance. We have shown high profile films such as “Dad's Army” and “Eddie the Eagle”. Feedback from our audiences has shown this to be a popular and well used facility with people of all ages attending.

The wide variety of performance productions and other facilities which we offer, is particularly appreciated by older and disabled people who do not have access to a wide social network. In addition to offering them the opportunity to widen their appreciation of the performing arts, it also offers the social stimulation which can be lacking in their lives. The theatre forms a focal point for performance and social events for all people from Pickering and the surrounding areas, as far afield as Scarborough, Helmsley, Malton and Whitby. We also have a significant number of holiday makers in the area, who also visit the theatre. As a valued community group, it affords opportunities for people to volunteer in many capacities. These include performing, front of house, backstage and technical areas such as sound and lighting, fund raising, wardrobe and props making, scene building and also as members of the theatre management committee.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We have taken feedback from the theatre users regarding the general facilities provided by the theatre, and in particular the recent innovation of the cinema. The overwhelming opinion of our users is that they want to see the cinema pilot become a permanent addition, to the other facilities we offer. We have a high number of older people in the community, who have difficulty in using public transport to go to towns such as Malton, which has the nearest commercial cinema. The feedback from Pickering and Ryedale residents to our pilot has been overwhelmingly positive. Visitors to Pickering have also given positive feedback.

Potentially, this addition to our service could benefit 200 people per film show, as the theatre seats this number of people. With two shows per month, this would mean a very diverse audience of 4800 people each year. The theatre is a well-established and well used community resource. Which has been reaching out to the people of Pickering for many years, and there is no reason to suppose that this will change. Nationally and locally we have an ageing population therefore the numbers of people who are likely to use our services can only increase, in the coming years.

We also have a thriving group of young people who perform at the theatre, which bodes well for our future. Many of these young people have gone on to study drama at university and RADA. We believe that by offering additional services to our core performance work this will contribute to attracting a wider variety of users of the theatre, making the theatre sustainability even more secure and increasing the diversity of the audiences that we reach, year on year. Being involved in the theatre and its various projects enables local people of all ages, gender, gender preference or realignment, ethnicity, sexuality, belief or disability to develop their skills, abilities and confidence, which can then be transferred to other activities or paid employment if required.

To date, we have hired in a screen on which to show the films. This has naturally reduced our income for each film show, and we are looking to purchase our own screen. Should we be successful in this bid, we would put the money towards this, thus enabling the film shows to continue. We have had quotes for the projected costs of a Screen International Major Pro C screen. The most competitive price is £2300. If this bid is successful, we would anticipate putting the £500 towards this cost. The remainder of the cost would be covered by other funds which The Friends of the Kirk Theatre have raised, from ongoing community events such as cake stalls, Murder Mystery nights, Race/Bingo nights and Christmas Fairs. We have raised over £5000 towards various projects or equipment for the theatre. This includes the building and development of a bar area, which has proved very popular and has boosted our income significantly.

"The Friends of Kirk theatre fund raising committee, has a long and consistent history of and commitment to raising funds for Kirk Theatre. The funds we raise provide continuing enjoyment for the Pickering community and visitors to Pickering, through the varied methods of entertainment that the theatre offers. The Skipton Building Society Grassroots Giving, will help us towards providing a permanent cinema service in Pickering, through the purchase of our own cinema screen, following our successful pilot scheme for a community cinema.

Susan Sims – Chair of The friends of The Kirk Theatre."

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