Scarborough Theatre Trust

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is a charitable trust which is run by Scarborough Theatre Trust; which - amongst many other things - is responsible for appointing the theatre's Artistic Director and Executive Director. It was Scarborough Theatre Trust which appointed Alan Ayckbourn as Artistic Director of the Library Theatre on 12 November 1972 and subsequently appointed his successors including the present Artistic Director, Paul Robinson.

Scarborough Theatre Trust: The Company

Scarborough Theatre Trust was incorporated as a company on 11 August 1964. It replaced Theatre In The Round Ltd which had run the company for the past two years, having itself superseded Stephen Joseph's original company Studio Theatre Ltd, which had run the Library Theatre from its opening in 14 July 1955 until 1962. When Stephen Joseph opened the UK's first in-the-round venue at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, in October 1962 (the Library Theatre wasn't a permanent theatre and thus Scarborough is recognised as being the home of the UK's first professional theatre-in-the-round company, whilst Stoke can claim the UK's first professional theatre-in-the-round venue), Studio Theatre Ltd and all its assets moved to the Victoria Theatre. In order to keep the Library Theatre running and to ensure its independence, the company was initially run by Theatre in The Round Ltd until Scarborough Theatre Trust was formed.

In 1965, Stephen Joseph closed the Library Theatre (further details about this event can be found
here) with the Trust kept in operation purely with the intention of finding a permanent home for a theatre-in-the-round company - not necessarily in Scarborough. However, moves were immediately made - independent of Stephen Joseph, who had at this point been diagnosed with terminal cancer - to re-open the Library Theatre.

Led by the theatre manager
Ken Boden, plans were drawn to re-open the Library Theatre as a professional venue for the 1967 summer season. Having, spoken to the Arts Council and other bodies - including Scarborough Town Council - who were broadly supportive of the plan, Ken approached Stephen about the plans with the intention of forming a new theatre trust. Stephen suggested instead he hand over Scarborough Theatre Trust to save on expenses and to keep continuity. This was agreed providing no existing debts were carried over to the 'new' trust.

In a board meeting on 12 October 1966 (which was followed by the Annual General Meeting, which essentially relaunched the trust), Stephen Joseph stepped down alongside the secretary Maurice Plows. It was also agreed the company's only contingent liability of £50 (owed to Theatre In The Round Ltd for the use of the company's van) would be settled. The slate was wiped clean and the company entered a new phase of its life,

At the Annual General Meeting, a new chairman for Scarborough Theatre Trust was appointed in Dr N. Walsh alongside a new council of Alfred Bradley, Ken Boden, Margaret Boden and Donald McLauchlan (with Ken Boden also secretary). During the meeting, an intention to stage a summer season from 10 July - 16 September 1967 was confirmed alongside the appointment of Rodney Wood as Director of Productions.*

Scarborough Theatre Trust (company no. 815227) continues to run the company to this day. As of December 2014, the company employed 29 full-time staff and 53 part-time staff.

Scarborough Theatre Trust: The Charity

Scarborough Theatre Trust was registered as a charity on 18 September 1967 (immediately following the end of the summer season) and has remained as a charitable trust ever since.

Its activities are officially listed as: "To advance the education of the public in all aspects of dramatic art including drama, opera, dance, music and film. The development of public appreciation of such art by the provision of a theatre and the presentation of public performances to further the social and cultural welfare of the community of Scarborough, its neighbourhood and visitors." Its charitable objectives are defined as: "To promote, maintain, improve, and advance education particularly by the production of educational plays and the encouragement of the arts."

A full description of Scarborough Theatre Trust's objectives and aims as listed in the Trustees' Annual Report for 2013 can be found
here.

Further information about Scarborough Theatre Trust can be found online at the Charities Commissions website
here.

*This part of the Trust's history is slightly confusing as the minutes of the two Scarborough Theatre Trust meetings on 12 October 1966 include a substantive date error. The first meeting of the evening in which Stephen Joseph stepped down as chairman is dated Wednesday 12 October 1967 (and the minutes makes a further incorrect date reference to another meeting). However, the minutes of the AGM which follow are correctly dated to meeting to Wednesday 12 October 1966. It is somewhat surprising the board did not realise or correct the error as - as it stands - they indicate Stephen was present at a meeting seven days following his death on 5 October 1967.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce this article without permission of the author.