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Yvonne’s Rural Touring Story

Next in our series of features about the fabulous people who make rural touring happen, Yvonne Dumsday tells us her rural touring story. Yvonne’s the volunteer promoter for Swanland Village Hall in East Yorkshire:

Back in 2005 Swanland Parish Council spent every penny of a loan in renovating and extending the Old School building which stood in the centre of the village behind the village pond.  The building was then handed over to a band of Trustees who had to find a way to generate an income to keep the hall open and running in a profitable way.

The then chairman, Mr Paul Priestley-Leach, a retired head-master who was very interested in the arts, had had contact from Ellen Thorpe who was running an organisation called ArtERY whose aim was to introduce rural touring theatre to the villages of the East Riding of Yorkshire.  He gave me the task of contacting her to see if this would be a possibility for our newly-refurbished Swanland Village Hall.  This meeting proved to be the start of a relationship that has lasted until the current day, with our venue proving a popular place for audiences drawn from a large radius.  We have promoted folk music, classical music, dance, theatre, puppetry etcetera with not only British artists but also Canadian, Danish, Estonian and others and our audience has been loyal throughout.  Because they know that all shows, whatever the genre, has been vetted by ArtERY, they know that, whatever they come to see, will be of a very high standard and should they choose not to attend one  – such as the one-woman show “Nearly Lear” starring Canadian actress Susanna Hamnett, previously shown on Broadway, New York, and subsequently seen at the Sydney Opera House in Australia – then they will for ever regret that decision, as all their friends who were there will remind them of what they missed.

Audience members at Swanland Village Hall following a performance by Rasa Theatre

The cost of the hall, the cost of feeding the cast and crew, the fee to ArtERY all adds up and the price of the ticket has to cover those.  The big unknown is the number in the audience, so each show is a gamble.  I am very happy to say that, despite keeping the ticket prices down to encourage more people to attend, year on year we have made an overall profit; at the same time providing a unique experience for local villagers.

Yvonne chatting to the audience at a sold out performance of Beryl by the West Yorkshire Playhouse