The Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Theatre Frontage

Theatre Frontage

Photo provided by Anna Mitchelson

Theatre Frontage

Theatre Frontage

Photo provided by Anna Mitchelson

We have big plans for the future of our theatre. Our founders, the Joseph Rowntree Village Trustees, built the theatre as place for recreation and education. Building on that legacy, we want to expand the theatre into a space for our local community to come together, a place for everyone.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre already has a special place in the hearts of many people in York – it’s a unique facility. But now we want to reach out further and open up our premises, both in terms of the building and people who use our facilities.

We are evolving our theatre into a vibrant community hub and creating new and exciting opportunities for more local people to get involved. Whilst the performing arts remain at the heart of what we do, we passionately believe that by opening up our theatre, more people from our neighbouring communities and across the City of York will be excited and inspired.

This is why we are embarking on a major capital project, to raise money to fund our theatre expansion and create multiple-use spaces. Achieving our ambition and realising our development plans will bring real and tangible benefit not just to our regular users and performers but also to the whole community. It will enable us to introduce more people to the experience of theatre.

We hope you will join us on our journey and help us to expand our theatre into a space where there is a place for everyone.

Our Vision

We have a clear vision, to be an inspiring community hub for performing arts and other entertainment.

Our Values

Our values are encapsulated in seven key words:

  • Accessible
  • Community
  • Hub
  • Heritage
  • Inclusive
  • Inspirational
  • Quality

Our Objectives

We have four principal objectives:

  1. To provide a quality, accessible performance venue for everyone.
  2. To extend the use of our building as a community hub.
  3. To support community productions through sharing resources and expertise.
  4. To use our volunteers effectively and support them in their volunteering.

Development plans

Please help us achieve our ambition by donating funds towards the re-development and upkeep of the theatre building.

Our plans include an expansion of the public areas of the theatre to increase foyer space and provide refreshment and seating space as well as 4 times as many toilets. Backstage we are planning to create more space and improve the facilities for all performers.


The Joseph Rowntree Theatre was opened in 1935 by the Joseph Rowntree Village Trustees. The aim of the trustees was to build a centre for recreational and educational activities that make for a full and happy life. The theatre still lives by this objective today. Now a charitable company, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, run entirely by volunteers under the direction of a board of trustees, continues to provide a facility for the benefit of local dramatic organisations.

The charitable company was established in 2001 and the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Limited was incorporated in March 2003, when it gained registered charity status. Since then, with the support of Nestle UK and its employees, the board of trustees has implemented improvements to enable its continued operation and ensure the theatre’s survival as a community asset.

In 2012, York St John University bought the freehold of the building from Nestle UK. Under the terms of the lease, the board of trustees was able to continue to manage the day-to-day running of the theatre.

In 2017, the board of trustees bought the premises of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre from York St John University.