BACK US: Laura Shaw, from The Witham, with the business brochure
BACK US: Laura Shaw, from The Witham, with the business brochure

BUSINESSES are being urged to back The Witham as efforts to save Barnard Castle’s cash strapped arts centre continue.

When trustees outlined the complex’s plight and launched their £30k in 30 days public appeal to save it from closure, they also pledged to drum up an additional £20,000 in corporate and business sponsorship. As we went to print, the appeal hit the £22,750 mark.

A brochure highlighting the benefits of corporate sponsorship to business has been produced and is being circulated as widely as possible.

The drive to attract business support is being backed by Barnard Castle town mayor Cllr Sandra Moorhouse and Lord Barnard.

Volunteer interim director Shelagh Amery said: “The focus has been on the public appeal, but now we are moving into the plan to contact businesses.”

While The Witham does have some support from businesses – most notable the Darlington Building Society – Ms Avery conceded: “We are probably behind the curve in terms of corporate sponsorship.”

She added: “There is a message from Lord Barnard suggesting why The Witham is valuable to the business community and why the business community should be thinking about supporting the Witham.”

She urged companies such as Kier Homes, responsible for building hundreds of new homes in the area, to consider backing The Witham.

Sam Turner

“Barnard Castle with an arts culture and community centre is a more attractive place than not having that resource and not having another dead space in the high street,” she said.

Ms Avery said business support could come either in the form of a donation or in other ways.

“Businesses may have skills, knowledge and resources to support The Witham,” she said.

“For example, a building company may provide paint to help with internal decoration.

“A plumber or electrician on a call-out basis could help with general maintenance. Estate agents could include information about The Witham for their clients.”

In return, she said The Witham could offer to promote businesses supporters in its programmes, offer discounted rates for meeting room hire. There was even the possibility of renaming the auditorium, if a sponsorship agreement could be reached, she said.

Anyone interested in discussing the opportunities for business and corporate sponsorship at The Witham should contact Ms Avery on 01833 631107.