Fundraising events are being organised to boost The Witham's coffers.
Fundraising events are being organised to boost The Witham's coffers.

TWO major fundraising events have been organised to keep the cash rolling in for Barnard Castle’s arts centre.

Despite the success of last year’s public appeal, which raised more than £42,000, and a subsequent £60,000 grant from Durham County Council, funding remains an issue at The Witham. Officials are currently awaiting the outcome of a funding application to the Arts Council.

In the meantime a St Patrick’s Day Festival later this month and a repeat of the popular Sunday Night at The Witham variety show in April aim to boost the coffers.

Shelagh Avery, chairwoman of trustees at the centre explained that although much better placed for the future, The Witham continues to be an expensive building in which to operate, necessitating further fundraising activities in support of grant applications.

“The application with the Arts Council is pending and we have applied to a trust to improve cinema equipment.

“We also have an application for some support for a business development consultant.”

She added: “There are some things we need to do ourselves and there are other things where we ask for the community’s support.”

The first is the St Patrick’s Day festival takes place on Sunday, March 17. A family event, doors open at 1.30pm for a 2.15pm start.

There will be music from the bands High Force and Teesdale Folk plus a performance by the youngsters from the Tierney School of Irish Dance. There will be a fun-filled ceilidh and rousing sing-along to end the afternoon on a high. Tickets are £5 per person, with children free.

Then on April 14, from 6.30pm, there will be Sunday Night at The Witham.

Host for the evening will be comedian Cal Halbert, who closed proceedings when the variety show was first staged to a full house last September.

Acts taking part include blues rockers the Corner Boys, the Euphoria Choir, members of Judi Sutherland's Poetry for Pleasure group, teenage Barney pop singer Jeshika Bassett, ukulele music from Staindrop’s D’Ukes of Scarth, country music from Dixon J Scott and a performance by the duo Pellingmans’ Saraband, featruing Jacob Heringman and Susanna Pell.

Tickets for the show are £10.

Ms Avery said she anticipated another excellent evening's entertainment.

“In September, we had more than 200 people in and the feedback was fantastic.”

She said she hoped people would support the other events, shows and performances at The Witham.

“We really need the community to buy tickets for the programme we produce.

“If we are not producing the right programme we need to change. We need to properly understand what people want.”

She also paid tribute to those who continued to support The Witham through regular donations.

“While big donations are important, we really value the smaller amounts we get via standing order from people within the community.”

Full details of the ongoing Investing in The Witham campaign are available online at www.thewitham.org.uk.