Georgian Theatre appeal

The stage of the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond Photo:

The oldest working theatre in the UK is launching a fundraising appeal to try to save the venue from closure.

The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, North Yorkshire, dates back to 1788, and is the oldest to still be in its original form.

Like many arts organisations, it is facing a challenging time as funds are cut.

This year the theatre celebrates a trio of anniversaries and has decided to set a target to raise £122,500 from donations to help it stay as a performance venue.

The theatre first opened 225 years ago. It is 50 years since its re-opening after the doors closed for more than a century, and this year also marks the tenth anniversary since the theatre was fully restored in a one million pound makeover.

Technically the oldest theatre in the UK is the Bristol Old Vic, having opened in 1766. But it has since had significant refits, while the auditorium of the Georgian Theatre Royal has never been remodelled.

The interior of the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond

Its supporters say its survival is vital to the local community.

Malcolm Bryant, Chairman for the Theatre said: "Everyone is aware that this is currently a challenging time for the Arts organisations.

"This is particularly so for the Georgian Theatre Royal, which, in addition to its artistic programme makes a major contribution to tourism, young people and the wider community. The Triple Anniversary Appeal will support all our activities and allow us to educate and entertain."