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Criterion Theatre

Become a Criterion Friend

The Criterion Theatre was born in 1961 when a group of volunteers turned an old 1880’S Methodist Sunday School into a theatre. 450 productions later, we are still entirely led by volunteers.

We now have charitable status, but all our funding comes almost entirely from ticket sales, membership subscriptions, bar takings and donations. We have no paid staff. Everything we do - from staffing the box office to manning the bar, from cleaning the loos to running children’s drama classes - is done by our volunteers who willingly donate their time, energy and talent for free.

However, for us this is not a barrier to quality. We strive to present theatre of all kinds to the highest professional standards. That is what the word “Criterion” means, and why it was chosen, all those years ago.


Our building has been good to us over the years, but it is beginning to let us down. Our volunteers have happily painted walls, fitted carpets, installed technical equipment and carried out an endless list of running repairs helping to keep our building in the best of shape. We have paid out of our limited resources for the building to be re-roofed, re-wired and the boiler to be replaced - costly but necessary ‘must have’ repairs.

We now have to make substantial improvements to the building, requiring significant long-term investment, including, among other things, improving our access to the toilet facilities and the auditorium; upgrading our lighting rig; overhauling our back-stage facilities to comply with health and safety regulations; provide watertight storage for staging, costumes and properties.

It isn’t easy asking people for money, but we need to make a plan for our building NOW in order for us to carry on into the future and we need financial support, on a regular basis, to make this happen.

You can be a Friend and a member at the same time – it’s a way of giving a little more on top of your yearly membership subscription if you’re able to.

So this is how you can help us.

You can be a Friend for as little or as much as you like, there is no set amount. We’re just grateful for what you feel you can afford. You can pay by card by Clicking Here or set up a regular standing order using This Form
You can be assured that all monies raised through the Criterion Friends will be earmarked in a restricted fund for crucial repairs and strategic development work.

As a Criterion Friend

Before you commit to anything you can get in touch with the Friends Secretary, Helen McGowan, by email on You can also leave a message on the Theatre Voicemail system on 024 7667 5175 and we'll return your call. We can also talk to you about making a one-off gift or planning for legacy giving. Do get in touch.
© 2023 Criterion Theatre Ltd
Registered UK 01643977 | Registered Charity 1161430