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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.  

Seeking space for your business? Head to The Witham!

The Witham has a ground floor studio on Hall Street in Barnard Castle, with its own sink and 431 square foot, with a very large shop front style window.

Monthly hire includes electricity, gas, water, broadband, cleaning of common areas, alarm system and maintenance. Toilet facilities are shared between the six studios. Hire of a Witham Studio comes with membership of The Witham’s Creative Professional scheme, which gives you 10% discount in The Witham’s Café, 10% discount from room bookings and invites to Gallery previews.

Within walking distance of Barnard Castle high street, we recommend coming to view this space if you're seeking a base.

With reasonable rates, please contact or call 01833 631107 for a tour, rates and to explore possibilities.

The Witham team invite you to the launch for the exciting new programme of events for spring 2018.

On Thursday 11th January from 18:00 to 19:30, The Witham staff team are presenting the seasonal launch for all the exciting events spring 2018 and everyone is invited!For the first time, Barnard Castle's vibrant arts centre invites you to attend this launch event to learn more about the new programme of events coming up from January to May 2018.

With a wonderful range of live dance, theatre, music, film screenings and discussion events, at Barnard Castle arts centre, the team are grabbing the opportunity to showcase the highlights and give you an indepth understanding of what's coming up.... direct from the people who boked them!

If you would like to attend, please contact Sarah Gent, Marketing Manager at The Witham by emailing  




The Witham are delighted to be part of the Barnard Castle Christmas Festival

A magical five-day Christmas Festival involving cultural venues in picturesque Barnard Castle in County Durham is taking place from 13 - 17 December 2017.

This historic market town - home to The Bowes Museum, The Witham arts centre and a Norman castle - will offer visitors an exciting festive mix of exhibitions, film screenings, performances and music alongside a traditional Christmas market featuring a wide selection of independent retailers as well as winter warming food and drink – the perfect combination in which to relax and soak up the joyful atmosphere.

There is also a pop-up light installation event, #boweslight which is a collection of contemporary installations at Bowes Museum and park as well as at The Witham. Photographed here is Heart of Starts by artist Stephen Newby. The large scale suspended heart has a surface made up of 11,000 mirror tiles to create a mirrored heart that reflects thousands of spots of light in fantastical, swirling and changing patterns to create a stunning, magical lighting effect cast over the surrounding landscape that dances and dapples through trees and plants.

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the opportunity to enjoy a classic film, and The Witham sets the seasonal scene beautifully with a screening of the family favourite Miracle on 34th Street on 14th December. Further festive offerings include the comedian Chris Ramsey – Work in Progress 2, whose 15th December performance is a sell out; a warming supper coupled with another sold out performance of A Christmas Carol presented by the acclaimed Castle Players, and Teesdale Christmas Art Fair.

The Christmas Festival launches on Wednesday 13 December with a Traditional Fair in The Bowes Museum grounds, featuring delicious food chalets, time-honoured fairground amusements, rides, side-shows, games and entertaining family activities.

The Bowes Museum’s annual Christmas Market has been extended this year, opening on the afternoon of 15th December and running all day on 16th and 17th December, with over 100 hand-picked stallholders. Live music, seasonal entertainment, prize draws from Smooth Radio and the popular park & ride ‘Santa’ buses ensure this feel-good family event is not to be missed.

Completing the picture will be fantastic musical performances at the TCR Hub on 16th December, featuring local performers and regional talent. While aimed at families, the event will continue late into the night, complemented by seasonal refreshments in the café, the ensure you leave in the festive mood.

To learn more about all the Christmas Festival events, dates and timings visit the Barnard Castle Christmas Festival website

At the Heart Of Stars – Bowes Light


To celebrate the 125th Anniversary of The Bowes Museum, a collection of contemporary installations in the Museum, park and town.





The Witham's spring programme launches this week with an arts-packed five months of activities from January to May 2018, including world-class live music, dance, visual arts and a new Pay What You Decide Scheme to support all in accessing wonderful theatre. 

Take a look through the new programme here.

There is a rich variety of live music in the season ahead, with the folk season including the rich vocal harmonies of Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan (Sat 10 Feb), traditional fiddle music from the Nordic Fiddles Bloc (Sat 10 March) and the return of the award-winning, Dublin-born singer and bouzouki player, Daoiri Farrell (Thursday 10 May), winner of two BBC Folk Awards 2017.

One of the most promising young artists at the International Mozarteum, pianist Chiyan Wong (Wednesday 14 March) will perform Bach’s Goldberg variations, Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, Busoni’s Sonatina Seconda and Liszt’s Don Juan. An ensemble of players from the Northern Sinfonia bring Brahm’s String Quintet No. 1 in F (Wednesday 11 April). The Witham are welcoming the Reg Vardy Brass Band (Sat 24 March), North of England Brass Band Champions 35 times and ranked in the top 20 of the Worlds’ Brass Bands and also have a valentine’s treat in store with The Glory of Love, the good and the bad, a fundraising concert of favourite popular songs from Musicals and Operetta with Simon and Philippa Dearsley and Penny Randell-Davies.

The live theatre season kicks off with the Castle Player’s Oliver Twist (Saturday 6 January) and the Northern Stage’s vivid and dynamic production of H.G. Well’s iconic novel, War of the Worlds  (Friday 16 February).  Little Mighty theatre company present the dramam, If I Say Jump (Friday 23 March) and Luke Wright presents the deft verse performance of Frankie Vah, (cover image for the programme,  which deals with love, loss and belief against a backdrop of scuzzy indie venues and 80s politics.

For the first time, The Witham has joined the REACH project, a strategic touring project funded by Arts Council England with a number of arts organisations, including the ARC Stockton. It is designed to increase both the quantity and the quality of contemporary theatre in the North East. As part of this, The Witham is trialling ‘Pay What You Decide’ for Testosterone, a high-energy production exploring masculinity presented by Rhum and Clay theatre company (Friday 4th May).

British Mountaineering legend Alan Hinkes OBE will present a film screening of the critically-acclaimed biopic of his life as the first and only British mountaineer to summit all 14 of the world’s highest mountains. He will introduce the film and speak both during and after about his amazing experiences.

The Witham team are delighted to have the professional tap dance performance at Barnard Castle’s vibrant arts centre, Fall Out presented by Old Kent Road (Wednesday 30 May) led by a live musical force with quintessential jazz. Pushing through boundaries of strength and intensity through the bare sounds of music and dance, this is a spectacularly technical performance

Comedy continue to go form strength to strength, thanks to the efforts of the Funny Way To Be Comedy Club. Highlights include the return of Lucy Porter with Choose Your Battles (Friday 6 April), Phill Jupitus’ Juplicity (Saturday 21 April) and Richard Herring’s show, Oh Frig, I’m 50! (Saturday 19 May).


The Family programme includes four wonderful live theatre experiences with enchanting music and puppetry in A Heart at Sea presented by Half a String (Friday 6 April) and the space race drama for 3 – 7 year olds, Tin Foil Astronaut (Friday 14 April). There is the internationally-acclaimed dance production, Chalk About presented by Curious Seed (Friday 11 May) for 8 – 14 years and a wonderful production of  the much-loved classic children’s book, The Giant Jam Sandwich presented by New Perspectives (Thursday 31 May).


The Witham are working with Suitcase Studio’s artist, Gemma McColl to deliver some fantastically creative and fun workshops for families to really get the imaginations flowing including the engineering challenge, Hengineers (Wednesday 14 February) and the Puppet Imaginaruim (Wednesday 4 April)!


Live Screenings continue to bring the world’s finest live performances to the screen at The Witham from the Royal Opera House including Tosca (Wednesday 7 February), Carmen (Tuesday 6 March) and Macbeth (Wednesday 4 April), and Ballets’ The Winters’ Tale (Wednesday 28 February) and Manon (Thursday 3 May). The Royal Shakespeare Company present Twelfth night (Wednesday 14 February) and Macbeth (Wednesday 9 May), and National Theatre Live performances include Tennessee William’s classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Thursday 22 February), and Julius Caesar (Thursday 22 March).  


Tap into Film Thursdays at The Witham where you can see the latest releases for only £5 a ticket from 7.30pm for Dunkirk (Thursday 25 January), God’s Own Country (Thursday 8 February), Loving Vincent (Thyursday 15 March), Victoria and Abdul (Thursday 26 April).


The Visual Arts season builds on the growing success of the second Teesdale Christmas Art Fair with four exciting and engaging fine art exhibitions, with Barnard Castle Art Society: A Year of Art (12 Jan – 10 Feb), Latest Edition (15 Feb to 17 March) featuring six regional artists as part of the Navigator North project. The exhibition Northern Shores (22 March to Sat 21 April) will be curiated from artists who apply to represent their works inspired by our wonderful coastline. TeesdaleArtNet are showcasing their stunning works in spring (26 April – 26 May).


The Witham have four brilliant arts workshops, the perfect Christmas gift for the arts and crafts people in your life. These include winter landscapes: Acrylic painting with local artist Anne Mason (Saturday 27 January), Patterns in Nature Relief: Print workshop with Karen Babayan, formerly Cumbrian Artist of the year (Saturday 3 March), Leather tooling workshop with Mark Rowney (Saturday 24 March) and Felt Art with Debria Esterhuizen (Saturday 12 May).


The Witham is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday and tickets are available from the Box Office or over the phone on 018733 631107. The Witham will be closed for Christmas from the end of Wednesday 20th December until the doors re-open on Friday 5th January 2018, apart from the New Year’s Eve Bash on 31st December.



WE ARE THE LIONS, MR MANAGER! By Neil Gore, will premiere at The Witham on 29th November.

On the 20th August 1976 a group of workers in a film processing factory in Willesden walked out in protest at their unfair working conditions, low pay and the 'bullying tactics' used by management.

Led by mostly East African Asian women, the Grunwick strike became one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history, and changed the way trade unions thought about race and new immigrant communities coming to Britain in the 1970s.

The women became known as the “strikers in saris” and their fight for fair treatment was supported by thousands of trade unionists and campaigners, as more than 20,000 people joined them at the picket lines on one of the mass pickets.

But the story of the Grunwick dispute is not just a story about ground-breaking solidarity. It is also the story of a remarkable woman, Jayaben Desai.

The four foot ten inches tall, mother-of-two defiantly led the first walk-out in protest against the humiliation she and other women employees felt at the Grunwick factory.
As she left, the manager shouted at Jayaben and her colleagues to “stop chattering like monkeys in a zoo", and Jayaben replied: "What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your finger-tips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!”

Jayaben became the leader of the Grunwick Strike and not only stood up for workers’ rights with selfless dedication, but with her steadfast resolve, she turned the dispute into a national movement for human rights, inspiring future generations and challenging the way people perceived Asian women.

Now, Jayaben's story is being brought to life for the very first time by Townsend Theatre Productions seeking to relive the strikers' inspirational fight for freedom, equality and human dignity.
Written by Neil Gore, the play will tell the story of the Grunwick dispute through a mixture of stirring song, poetry, movement and dance, and the play will utilise Townsend Production's trademark cast of two characters playing multiple roles.
 “In our work we aim to focus on the lives and contributions of inspirational and vital figures from our social history, often forgotten, who campaigned vigorously to improve the quality of life for everyone. Jayaben Desai is one such figure. She tirelessly fought on behalf of immigrant workers against exploitative employment practice; fearlessly faced all the elements of establishment authority; alerted many in the trade union movement to the issues of vulnerability of immigrant workers; and highlighted the fight to maintain basic trade union rights. Her resolve and courage should be remembered and celebrated. Also, Grunwick raised many wide-ranging questions about trade unionism, rights in the workplace and dignity at work, themes that still resonate and are relevant today.”  Neil Gore

We Are The Lions Mr Manager is directed by Louise Townsend & Musical Director John Kirkpatrick and will feature in it’s cast Medhavi Patel and Neil Gore.

We Are Lions, Mr Manager! is supported by Arts Council England and Unite the Union.
Tickets for We Are The Lions Mr Manager are priced at £10 (£8 Concs) and you can buy them here.


Notice of Annual General Meeting

Barnard Castle Mechanics' Institute and & Witham Hall Community Association - 6pm, Wed 27th September 2017.

The Witham Hall Ltd. Wednesday 27th September 2017 at 6.15pm.

Both AGMs will take place at The Witham, 3 Horsemarket, Barnard Casstle, DL12 8LY 

To find out more information, visit The Witham between 10am and 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday, book online: or call 01833 631107.


On Wednesday Thursday 28 Sept at 7.30pm, the north-east’s premier chamber music ensemble, Royal Northern Sinfonia of Sage Gateshead will be on tour to The Witham, Barnard Castle’s vibrant art centre.


Bringing a wonderful programme of chamber music for strings, the orchestra’s repertoire will include a fantastic feast of Borodin, Shostakovich and Scherzo as well as Mendelssohn Octet in E flat.


Royal Northern Sinfonia has built a world-wide reputation for the quality of its music making and the immediacy of the connections the musicians make with the audiences. Sarah Gent, Marketing and Communications Manager at The Witham says: ‘It’s always a treat to have the orchestra come and perform in Barnard Castle. It really is an opportunity to witness the finest musicianship with such a beautiful set of pieces on offer. It’s true that the orchestra are always so amiable and entertaining- it creates such a personal experience in listening to classical music’.


Another offering of first-class performance is a live broadcast from the Royal Opera House of La Bohème on Tuesday 3rd October at 7.15pm.  This will be a unique viewing to see Puccini’s famous opera directed by Richard Jones in a close-up and high-definition experience.


To book tickets and find out more information, visit The Witham between 10am and 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday, book online: or call 01833 631107.


Following the publication of The Witham's Autumn 2017 programme, it has come to our attention that there is an error in the Rotary Club of Barnard Castle's email address in their advert, due to an error.

Whole-hearted apologies to the Rotary Club of Barnard Castle for this mistake. We appreciate the support of all our advertisers and this does not reflect our usual high standards of service. The Rotary Club of Barnard Castle has been a loyal and generous supporter of The Witham over the years.

Please note that the correct email address for correspondence with the Rotary Club of Barnard Castle is as follows:

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

With a little help of celebrated poet and wordsmith Ian McMillan, The Witham introduces our autumn programme packed with over 90 months of excellent arts and cultural events for all to enjoy from September to December 2017

Ian McMillan, the jovial friendly face and voice of British Poetry, played The Witham for the second time back in March and was so struck by the arts centre, he wrote a wonderful introduction to the autumn programme of events - as he comments, ‘The Witham is a perfect example of what an arts centre in a small town can be and what it can strive to become…. Long may The Witham continue to thrive: visit it regularly, cherish it, challenge it, enjoy it. And then have some more lovely cake.’

The Witham’s contemporary music gigs this autumn offer folk (including Three Cane Whale on 9th September, Lady Maisery on 10th November, Blazin’ Fiddles on 25th November) , jazz (Birkett and Fiske on 27 September) and excellent acoustic guitar (Adrian Nation on 16th September).

Following the wonderful fundraising concerts to help towards the purchase of a new piano at The Witham in 2018, autumn brings three wonderful evenings of classical music including Royal Northern Sinfonia String Octet (28th September) bringing Mendelsohn’s beloved Octet, Borodin’s evocative string Quintet and the stirring brilliance of Shoctakovich’s Octet.

Screenings continue to bring the world’s Operas and Ballets to Barnard Castle High Street live at the time they are occurring at the Royal Opera House with The Magic Flute (20 September) and La Bohème (3 October). Carmen on the Lake (14th September) is an encore screening of the performance on the floating stage at during the Bregenz Festival. Christopher Wheeldon’s exuberant ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on 23 October offers an explosion of colour, stage magic and inventive choreography, while The Nutcracker on 5 December offers an enchanting start to the festive season.

The Spoken Word programme continues to expand at The Witham with a screening live from London’s Royal Festival with John Le Carre – An Evening with George Smiley (12A, 7 September) and evening presentations from both Dales vet Neville Turner (4 October) and Artist Illustrator Linda Birch (24 October), both of which are fundraisers for The Witham.

There is a wealth of theatre this season with six live performances including physical theatre exploring the stories of women workers in Britain’s munition factories, (Canary, 13 September), a funny and uplifting piece of dance theatre inspired by hair styles and a sizzling soundtrack of Ghanaian music (The Head Wrap Diaries, brought to The Witham thanks to the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme on 6 October). We are the Lions (29 November) tells the story of Jayaben Desai, the inspirational female leader of the 1976-78 Grunwick Factory Strike.

The Castle Players bring two shows this season – Peter Shaffer’s ingenious Black Comedy (27 & 28 October) and the festive classic A Christmas Carol (with a matinee performance at 3pm & 7.30pm 16 December).

For the very first time, you can watch theatre live from Shakespeare’s Globe in London at The Witham with King Lear (21 September) starring Kevin McNally. RSC and National Theatre Screenings continue to bring the very best theatre live to The Witham big screen with RSC Coriolanus (11 October), an encore screening of the National Theatre’s Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, 1850 drama broadcast live from The Bridge Theatre in London called Young Marx (7 December) and Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical Follies (9 December) starring Imelda Staunton.

Family highlights include Theatre Hullabaloo presents TakeOff Festival, England’s leading children’s theatre festival brings La Baracca - Testoni Ragazzi (Italy) presents Little Red Riding Hood on 19 October. Illustrator Korky Paul, the energetic, interactive illustrator is bringing the wonderful world of Winnie the Witch to The Witham on 14th November.

The Funny Way To Be Comedy Club continues to deliver fantastic quality laugher from the very best in the business, including Robin Ince (23 Sept), Matt Richardson (11 Nov) and legendary stand up Omid D Djalili (22nd November).

Exciting Visual Art exhibitions include Anne Mason bringing her bright and beautiful representations of flora and fauna in Nature Abstracted into the Dispensary Gallery from 17 August to 9th September, whilst Under Northern Skies, an exhibition of paintings by Hazel Smith and Jill Eagle. Highlights Rural Touring Craft Tour exhibition brings Luminosity.

The critically acclaimed Exhibitions on Screen continue with Canaletto and the Art of Venice (26 Sept), David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (21 Nov), featuring intimate and in-depth insights into the exhibitions that are lighting up the visual arts world.

The Witham are offering an increased number of all day arts workshops for grown ups for £50 per person including the popular Cumbrian Printmakers with Monoprint (9 September), Carborundum (23 September) and Book making (7 October). Curiously Contrary returns with a mixed media workshop (21 October) and March Hare Fabric sculpting workshop (15 November). Designer maker Kathryn Guy brings a new day workshop of Christmas Decorations using upcycled materials (3 November).

There is also a new monthly creative evening workshop Make It Thursdays with artist Gemma McColl every second Thursday of the month starting on 14 September from 6.30 – 8.30pm, where each session gives you the opportunity to try a different creative technique. The Witham continues to have lots of weekly workshops for children and adults alike, including a new Hatha Yoga class on Tuesday evenings and the Arts and Crafts group with artist Jane Young on Friday mornings.

Film Thursdays continue at The Witham in 2017 including critically acclaimed Hidden Figures (12th October), Their Finest starting Gemma Arterton (19 October), Lady Macbeth (26 October) and The Sense of an Ending (2 November).

The Handcrafted Wedding Market offers the chance to collect alternative and creative ideas for your big events and showcases The Witham as a wedding venue, working with the Designer Makers Market and Vintage Essence. Designer Makers Market brings the very best of regional designers and craftspeople (18 & 19 November), Northern Craft Market (2 September, 7 & 21 October, 4 November and 2 December) and the Handcrafted Fair (30 September, 28 October, 25 November).

For the first time this year, you can celebrate with your work colleagues at The Witham’s Christmas Do (24 November and 1 December) with live comedy, food and live music. And for the second year running, The Witham are holding a New Year’s Eve Bash, with Ceilidh Hog Roast and Live Band.

Sarah Gent, Arts Marketing Manager at The Witham says ‘ We have created a season that truly holds something for everyone! From Neville Turner sharing his music, words and pictures and Korky Paul drawing Winnie the Witch to The Work Christmas Do with soul, come to one of over 90 events at The Witham and not only support Barnard Castle’s arts centre but also have a brilliant time while you’re here!

With so much going on, pop in and pick up your copy of the latest programme so you don’t miss out.’

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Featured Event

  • Canary, A Teenage response +

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  • Director, performer, facilitator and teacher Ruth Mary Johnson writes about her residency at The Witham +

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  • Heidi Talbot & John McCusker +

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  • The Witham receives Catalyst grant to ignite fundraising mission +

    The Witham are delighted to announce their successful application for a Catalyst Small Grant from Arts Council England. These funds Read More
  • The Witham have studio space currently available +

    Seeking space for your business? Head to The Witham! The Witham has a ground floor studio on Hall Street in Read More
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