Hiring – General Information


The Joseph Rowntree Theatre opened in 1935 and is an interesting example of an inter-war theatre designed by the architect Barry Parker. The exterior of the theatre is a functional yet attractive piece of thirties design, whilst the interior has all the characteristics of the Art Deco style.

Set in its own grounds some 55 metres from the road, the theatre has its own private tarmac driveway with gardens to either side. There is vehicular access to a scene dock to one side of the building. If using a large vehicle please check dimensions with us beforehand. For technical and dimension details please see Backstage Facilities.

Since 2001 the theatre has been run by a charitable trust. The trust aims to provide a venue for the presentation of the performing arts for the City of York and surrounding areas. Since 2003 a major series of refurbishments has been undertaken, including the replacement of the auditorium seats and carpets, the complete redecoration of the interior, the upgrade of the stage lighting and the overhaul of the sound system.


The main body of the auditorium has 244 seats with a central aisle and 2 side aisles. The balcony has 118 seats in 3 blocks with 2 aisles. There are 3 wheelchair spaces at the rear of the stalls. The total seating capacity is 362.

Front of House

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre provides a box office service as part of the hire agreement. Hirers will be asked to provide ticketing information in advance of the production and the theatre will organise and arrange the sale of tickets. Please discuss your ticketing arrangements with our box office director as soon as possible after confirming your booking.

Sweets, soft drinks and ice creams are available before the performance and during the interval. The front of house space is limited and no other selling can take place in the foyer area. Toilets for audience members use are located near the main entrance to the theatre in the foyer. In addition an accessible toilet is located off the corridor along the right hand side of the auditorium.

Car parking for the audience and cast is available within a short walk from the theatre.

Opening Times

On performance nights the theatre opens its doors to patrons 30 minutes before the start of the performance. The stage manager unlocks the building to allow cast and crew access via the stage door at the agreed hire time — normally 90 minutes before your performance.


The management board has a team of volunteers who help at the theatre in a number of different ways.

The technical team will consist of resident volunteer stage managers for the organisation and safety of your production and they will control your production in respect of flying and lighting. The stage manager is also the management board’s representative during rehearsals.

Volunteer stewards will be present at all public performances to assist with the management of front of house facilities and they will guide people to their seats. Our stewards can sell your programmes for you, and we will provide cash floats for this purpose.

During a performance there will be two volunteer duty managers/board members present front of house to oversee arrangements and in case of emergencies.