I’m gutted I never got the chance to see Berwick Kaler play his notoriously brilliant Dame in the annual York Theatre Royal pantomime before he retired this year after 40 years delighting locals and loyal visitors. However, York Theatre Royal won’t let him be forgotten easily.
Executive Director Tom Bird said: “The Berwick Kaler Foundation will enable us to bring families, friends and communities together to share experiences and enjoy theatre in all its many forms. We want our pantomime audiences and our whole community to support the Berwick Kaler Foundation and help us to grow the YTR family.
“The theatre strives to be a place where everyone feels they are welcome and that they belong. We want to be accessible to all. We want our community to have a stake in what we do. We want to continue to engage, inspire and excite.”
The Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Charitable Trust, long-standing supporters of the theatre, has started the Foundation with a donation to support the work York Theatre Royal does across the year in the community, particularly for children and young people.
Of course, Berwick will be the Patron and figurehead of the Foundation, including hosting fundraising activities. So there’ll hopefully still be plenty of chance for me to see him in action!
One of the first projects taken up by the Foundation will be funding the Access All Areas project for 12 months at a cost of £3,800. The project prioritises disadvantaged young people who do not already engage with York Theatre Royal, possibly due to social, cultural or financial barriers.
Access All Areas is a free provision that is referral only and transport costs can be supported. The project helps the young people progress into mainstream youth theatre, community shows like Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes and the annual TakeOver festival, which then allows new members to join the small supported group. The project has previously been funded by the Ed De Nunzio Charitable Trust.
The BK Foundation Fund will also support a £12,000 transport project around the production of Driving Miss Daisy in June. This will involve providing transport to and from the theatre through charities supporting older people in York.
The theatre’s target is to raise £200,000 in two years – you can donate to the Berwick Kaler Foundation through the box office, online at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk and by contacting the Development Team firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think this will become a firm charity favourite of mine. Giving all people access to the theatre is vitally important to encourage creativity and inspire a whole new audience of theatre lovers. What a worthy, wonderful cause.