The Castle Players and The Witham are inviting 4 -11 year olds to enter a competition by designing a mad hat – the winning hat will be created by The Castle Players to your design and worn by the Mad Hatter in the upcoming summer production of Alice in Wonderland in the grounds of the Bowes Museum.
The lucky winner will also get covered seating tickets for a family of 4 for the opening night on Wednesday 10th July 2019.
Entries will be judged by Teesdale Mercury editor Trevor Brookes, local Hatter Ann Gill, and the Mad Hatter himself, Ben Pearson.
To enter, design your own Mad Hat on a plain A4 sheet of paper and please remember to write your name and age on the back of your design. Hand it into The Witham along with a completed entry form by 4pm on Saturday 8th June. The Witham address is 3 Horsemarket, Barnard Castle DL12 8LY.
Download your Entry Form here and good luck!
The deadline for entries is 4pm on Saturday 8 June 2019. The winner will be announced on Saturday 15 June 2019.
The Witham Trustees were delighted at the success of a major application to Arts Council England.
The grant, with a total value of £46,457, will support a wide range of activities and performances for all ages and all tastes for a full year.
The grant marks a turning point for The Witham following a period of serious financial difficulty. Trustees acknowledge that the success of the public fundraising campaign supported by The Teesdale Mercury last year played a significant role in securing the grant.
"The level of local support demonstrated to the Arts Council that there is significant reason to invest in The Witham. We continue to work hard to get things on an even keel; the support of the local community remains critical", said Jill Cole, trustee of The Witham.
As well as a range of performances the grant will also help to support the continuation of popular dance-based activity such as Irish Dance, the 1940s tea dance and the Silver Swans ballet class.
In relation to the story in the Mercury of 16 January the Trustees of The Witham wish to make it clear that it will not be receiving money from the Town Council as suggested and there is no plan for a Council Tax precept for it.
The Witham needs support from the community, of course, and is grateful for the successful recent fundraising, but there will not be a 'culture tax'.
The Witham café team have new aprons to go with the new year, thanks to the support of generous local business, S & A Fabrications.
The Witham Dispensary Café Bar staff as pictured here (L-R Stacey, Sophie, Jessica, Suzanne - Café manager, Maureen) are looking very smart for the New Year wearing new, embroidered aprons generously provided by S&A Fabrications Ltd.
As Sarah Gent, Marketing Manager at The Witham comments, "We are so pleased to be working with this great business and our thanks go to S & A Fabrications for your support of The Witham community arts centre. By working together, we can bring so much more for our local community to enjoy."
The Witham Café Bar is open from 9.30 am to 4 pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays, some Sundays and also from an hour before evening events. They serve good food, much of which is homemade on the premises, with a warm, friendly service in the beautiful modern café atrium nestled between two Victorian buildings.
The Witham community arts centre launched an exciting new season (January to April 2019) on Tuesday 11 December, with the support of Comedian Justin Moorhouse.
Following the fundraising campaign to secure its long-term future that saw the public, The Witham is forging ahead with more events in 2019 that demonstrate a response to the audience feedback about what works well at The Witham and what else people would like to see happening there.
As a result, The Witham now has a wider range of events including tribute acts, films selected by the public, accessible screenings and more sing-alongs. However, the programme also continues to deliver cultural and artistic experiences that otherwise would not be available to visitors to Teesdale and the surrounding area.
The Funny Way to Be Comedy line-up includes amazing performers such as Justin Moorhouse, who brings his Northern Joker show on Saturday 26 January. Justin gave a fantastic introduction to the whole comedy programme at The Witham in person at the launch event, which includes An Audience with Cannon and Ball (Friday 12 April) and Strictly Dancing Star Seann Walsh on Wednesday 10 April.
Music highlights include the Lindisfarne Story on Saturday 16th March, the UK’s best David Bowie tribute act, Jean Genie on Saturday 30th March, complete with dazzling flamboyant costumes and stunning effects with live band. A sensational show on tour from Blackpool celebrating the music of Frankie Vali & The Four Seasons, The Jerseys – Oh What a Nite! is on Saturday 13 April,
The film programme has been selected by public poll and includes The Children Act, starring Emma Thompson. Following pubic feedback, Sing-Along films are booked in – The Sound of Music on Thursday 21st February and Mamma Mia 2 on Thursday 18 April – and dressing up is actively encouraged. Relaxed, accessible screenings of classic matinees are a welcome addition for those who don’t like to go out at night and for whom regular cinema conditions are challenging, including those living with dementia. This includes classics such as The Wizard of Oz (Thursday 24th January) and Brief Encounter (Thursday 18 April) on the big screen.
Theatre performances include the award-winning production of The King and I at the London Palladium on the big screen on January 5 at 2pm, the hilarious Dad’s Army Radio Show on Tuesday 26 March and a darkly comic performance of The Death Show on Wednesday 27 February.
The Witham is also hosting a series of fundraising events in the new season that include artist Ann Whitfield’s creative workshop on Saturday 5 January (only 2 places remaining), David Williams’ A Wild Life photography talk on Tuesday 29 January and the St Patrick’s Day Festival on Sunday 17 March. There is also a showcase of local talent event on Sunday Night at The Witham on 14 April – an evening of fun. Laughter, music and verse for all ages hosted by Britain’s Got Talent’s Cal Halbert.
As Sarah Gent, Marketing Manager at The Witham, says, ’We have listened to the feedback of our visitors and local community – we are working to put on more of what you’ve told us you’d like here at The Witham, including tribute bands and a film programme that was selected by the public.
‘However, we aren’t getting rid of what people already enjoy so there will be fantastic folk, a range of exciting theatre performances, comedy with the Funny Way To Be Comedy Club, arts workshop and classical music too. Please do come to see what’s on offer and spread the word – The Witham community arts centre has something for everyone!’
The Witham are delighted to be part of this year's Co-op Local Community Fund which helps to support local projects that Co-op members care about. Since its launch in 2017, Co-op members have raised £39 million pounds for over 12,000 local causes.
With your help, The Witham will now be able to access this funding opportunity.
Our goal is to subsidise tickets for live theatre, dance and music for young people (aged 12-20) in Barnard Castle, Teesdale and Weardale. We will reach out to community groups, schools, The Hub and the YMCA to encourage young people to access performances. The workshops and masterclasses will help to form new social networks for young people. We will recruit young people to be ambassadors for the project and young volunteers to steward events and run the Box Office. Q and A sessions will provide a space to discuss issues.
How the fund works
Every time members shop at the Co-op, you can choose to give 1% of what you spend on Co-op branded products and services helps fund community projects. Members can shop at any Co-op Group stores across the UK to raise money for our cause.
Members can choose which causes to support by signing into their membership account or by calling the membership helpline on 0800 023 4708. The Witham will be available for members to select until November 2019.
As part of a series of events organised by The Witham for our Fundraising Campaign Teesdale’s TV antique expert, David Harper will be presenting a show on Sunday the 9th December at7.30pm.
The show will feature funny behind the scenes anecdotes from TV, exciting antique finds, huge profits, even bigger losses, disaster stories from celebrity TV appearances and historical journeys through time are all part of what makes this show like no other.
David Harper is a BBC TV presenter. Bargain Hunt, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Flog It, For What It’s Worth and The Antiques Road Trip are all shows he presents. These hugely popular BBC programmes are shown in over 50 countries worldwide. David has appeared on many other BBC TV programmes too from The One Show to Celebrity Masterchef, Through The Keyhole to Countryfile, Celebrity Eggheads to The Heaven & Earth Show!
The show is unscripted and very much audience led with involvement in the form of questions from the audience or questions and challenges from David throughout, as the talk develops. Audience members are even invited to bring items along (small antiques or collectibles) which will be used, discussed and valued during the evening.
Talking about the show David Harper said, “I loved hosting the Fundraising Showcase of Local Talent in September and was delighted to be asked by the Witham team to present a solo evening to help this vital community asset continue to develop.
“The audience does not need to have a particular interest in antiques to enjoy this show, as subjects ranging from how to build the confidence to appear on TV, money making schemes, meeting of famous characters and humorous real life experiences from TV and the world of art and antiques are shared…and sometimes fabulous stories are unexpectedly shared by an audience members too!”
Sarah Gent, The Witham’s Marketing Manager said, “We are absolutely delighted that David is supporting The Witham with for this brilliant evening of entertainment. Sunday night at The Witham was a very popular evening and we anticipate this selling quick so please book your ticket to avoid disappointment. Thank you, David for your ongoing support.”
Tickets priced £10.00 (£5.00 for concessions) are available here:
Statement from Durham County Council
A fundraising campaign to secure the future of an historic community arts centre has been given a £60,000 boost.
Bosses at the Witham, in Barnard Castle, launched the Investing in the Witham campaign in August with the aim of raising £150,000 by the end of the year. Now the council and county councillors from the town have shown their support for the initiative by agreeing to contribute almost half of the fundraising total - match-funding the amount raised by the community.
Durham County Council said "We will be contributing £35,000 with the remaining cash coming from the neighbourhood budgets of Cllr Richard Bell, Cllr Ted Henderson, Cllr George Richardson, Cllr James Rowlandson, Cllr Stephen Hugill and Cllr Heather Smith. The members' contributions will be distributed through Teesdale AAP. We will also be working closely with the Witham's board of trustees, staff and volunteers to ensure the centre is sustainable in the long-term."
Cllr Carl Marshall, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "The Witham is not only an important community facility, it is also an historic building with a rich heritage, so we are particularly pleased to be able to support it. The funding we are providing will support the centre over the next six months but, more crucially, we will be offering advice and guidance that we hope will help secure the Witham's future for the longer-term."
Bob Garton, Chair of the Witham Trustees, said: "The trustees are delighted to receive the news that Durham County Council has agreed to support the Witham. The decision came at a very critical point indeed for us and, together with the overwhelming support from the local community, means that the Witham is now in a strong enough position to move forward.
"Our particular thanks go to councillors who have jointly recognised that the Witham benefits the economy, the livelihoods and the wellbeing of people right across Teesdale."
Situated on Horse Market, the Witham is comprised of a collection of Grade II listed buildings dating back to 1846. As well as a former music hall, it features an art gallery, box office shop and café
In 2013, it was the subject of a £3.2 million regeneration project delivered by the council, the Witham Trustees and Barnard Castle Vision.
The Witham Board of Trustees announce that the Investing in The Witham arts, culture and community centre in Barnard Castle has raised in excess of £42,121 in 30 days , thanks to a huge effort by trustees, staff, volunteers, supporters and visitors.
The Investing in The Witham campaign has seen supporters investing to build a financial future for The Witham. The campaign has included a wide variety of events and activities to help achieve the target including:
- a volunteer-led Morrison’s Bag Pack which generated over £570 on Saturday 1st September;
- the donation of goods for sale in the shop including artworks, scarves and jewellery that have the dual benefit of increasing donations but also, increasing the range of goods for sale;
- individual campaigners contributed with sponsored challenges including Café Manager Suzanne Wallace 15km sponsored run, Marketing Manager Sarah Gent’s Creative Chalk Challenge and former Audience Development Officer, Maddy Sutton undertaking a sponsored Peak trek.
On 9 September a variety evening, Sunday Night at The Witham which raised more than £2000 through ticket and programme sales, the raffle and the auction of a watercolour painting kindly donated by artist Chris Mouncey. The evening was hosted by TV Antiques expert David Harper and featured performances from Star of Britain’s Got Talent ‘Mimic Men’ Cal Halbert, international dramatic coloratura soprano Penelope Randell-Davis, singer singwriter Toni Sidgwick, The Castle Players, musicians’ Jane Ford and Nicky Tulloch, virtuoso ventriliquist Eileen Thompson and young harpist Joshua Greenwell.
As the campaign demonstrates, The Witham has built a 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. There is an on-going programme of fundraising activities to ensure the Investing in The Witham is an enduring campaign. The focus is also on corporate sponsorship and grant funding in order to ensure The Witham has a sustainable future on Barnard Castle high street.
As Shelagh Avery, Interim Director of The Witham arts centre, says, “Our heartfelt thanks to all who have supported this campaign – from the board of trustees, the staff, volunteers and visitors, everyone has pulled together to achieve this remarkable result. It has been truly inspirational to be a part of this team of people working to ensure that Barnard Castle has an arts, culture and community centre long into the future.
The Investing in The Witham campaign continues.
Thank you to our MP Helen Goodman for speaking up for The Witham in parliament this week. It is wonderful to have your support and amazing to hear The Witham mentioned in the Houses of Parliament.
The public response to our fundraising campaign has been fantastic and we are working to secure grant funding from various sources to support our work going forward, including the Arts Council.
It is only by working to generate funds through three channels (public giving, corporate support and grant funding) that The Witham's long-term future can be secured.
Thank you to all who are supporting The Witham.
Find out more about our wonderful fundraisers on our BT My Donate page.