A musical fundraiser that helps keep a much-loved York theatre afloat is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

York Music Night raises cash for Joseph Rowntree Theatre, in Haxby Road, with concert evenings featuring amateur musicians from groups across the city. 

After Rowntree's was sold to Nestlé in 1988, the future of the theatre was in doubt as its new owners expressed no interest in keeping it open. Keeping the site operational required a vast amount of funding.

However, Arnold Durham, who was the sports and social manager at Rowntree's during the acquisition, was desperate to keep the theatre running.

York Press: Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Arnold said: "I didn't want to be the sport and social manager that lost the theatre."

Arnold said Rowntree's had made many contributions to York over the years, from sports fields to swimming baths.

But entertainment enthusiast Arnold added: "The crème de la crème for me was always the theatre."

York Music Night was set up as part of a path to secure the future of the theatre and the first event took place on December 19, 1993 - 30 years ago next month. 

Composer and York musical legend Don Pears said: "The theatre could've been knocked down and it would've been a huge miss to all the companies in York that use it.

"There's a lot of talent in York and the theatre helps to get them exposed.

"Music Nights are certainly considered to be one of the chief fundraisers for the theatre."


More than 100 shows have been performed in the fundraiser's history, typically with a different theme of music spanning styles, decades, and centuries.

For the anniversary concert, the theme will be centred around celebrating the history of Music Night. Don said: "We are trying to spread our wings but also keep our ethos."

The Christmas Showtime Concert will feature soloists from across the years, including Arnold Durham. There will also be performances from York-based choir 'Singphonia', 'The Tuesday Singers' and 'York Ladies'.

Starting at 7pm on December 17, tickets are still available and can be purchased via the theatre's box office, or the phone number: 01904 501935. They can also be purchased online here.