Huge donation for NE Georgian Theatre

Published: 14 June 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, North Yorkshire has received a donation of £375,000 from the Hamish Ogston Foundation to fund an extensive auditorium development programme, enabling it to embark on an ambitious capital works project that will provide more comfortable seating and improved views of the stage whilst maintaining the building’s heritage and authenticity.

Construction work is expected to start in the coming weeks with a recommencement of shows planned for March 2021 in the newly improved auditorium. The upcoming pantomime Beauty and the Beast will be postponed until December 2021.

Hamish Ogston CBE is a philanthropist who, through his foundation, supports a range of initiatives related to health, heritage and music in and outside the United Kingdom.

“I am delighted to be able to facilitate this aspiring and most worthwhile project through the work of my Foundation,” said Ogston who is Vice President of the theatre. “It is essential to preserve historic buildings like this, particularly when they house some of our most enduring traditions. By developing and enhancing them in creative ways, we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy them as we do.

“I hope that my contribution will also be a catalyst for other benefactors to come forward and support the theatre, not only during this current crisis but to enable it to pursue other phases of this development to provide future strength and sustainability.”

“This exceedingly generous donation offers a wonderful opportunity for the theatre to turn what could have been a bleak and worrying time into something with a very positive outcome,” said Clare Allen, Chief Executive of The Georgian Theatre Royal.

“It is likely that we would have been closed for most of the period between now and spring 2021, as indoor public spaces are predicted to be amongst the last to reopen. A recent survey of our regular audience members also indicated that people would prefer to leave it a while longer before they feel confident in attending shows.

“This continued dark period can therefore be used to very constructive effect and we look forward to welcoming back audiences at a time when they feel safe to do so. There will also be the extra bonus of a splendidly refurbished theatre, offering an enhanced and more comfortable experience for everyone.”

The theatre has received additional funding of £35,000 from Arts Council England and £20,000 from the Government, administered through Richmondshire District Council, to support the charity while its doors remain closed. The theatre also currently receives £50,000 a year from the Sylvia Crathorne Memorial Trust.