THE Evening Press campaign to keep the world-famous York Mystery Plays alive has won backing from the York Guilds' Wagon Plays Board.

The Guilds performed Mystery Plays on the backs of pageant wagons in the city's streets in 2002, and are aiming to stage another such production for 2006.

But they say a major production on a fixed stage is equally important to the city's heritage, with the two versions complementing each other.

The Guilds have welcomed money to set up a board to stage the plays in 2005.

Their representative is willing to serve on a board which may be set up in a bid to mount a staged version of the plays again in 2005. The representative will join other volunteers from across the York community who have come forward over the past three weeks and offered to join the prospective board.

The Press launched a campaign to save the plays last month, after readers were shocked and dismayed to hear there would be no major staged production again in the city until at least 2010.

The Plays have traditionally been staged every three or four years since 1951, but the last production was in the Minster in 2000 and nothing was planned for 2004.

The Guilds say they intend to mount pageant wagon productions every four years, provided they have the support of the council and can raise the necessary subsidy. "The Guilds' next production has been earmarked for 2006," said Guilds board secretary Ivison Wheatley, who was clerk of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall for 13 years until his retirement four years ago.

"If, however, the initiative of the Evening Press leads to a large-scale production on a fixed stage in 2005, the Guilds might postpone theirs to 2007.

"There is also a possibility, yet to be explored, that the Guilds' production could in some way be associated with that being proposed by the Evening Press.

"An option is for the one to supplement the other. We could run the wagon plays as part of a large-scale Mystery Plays production."

He said the Guilds obviously had to think about funding. "We did the 2002 production for £20,000, which may be difficult to raise in competition with a larger production."