Birchvale is a small community theatre in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway, they support people of all ages from 8 years old to 80. They put on a number of productions per year involving all generations, including their annual pantomime which brings community entertainment to the area. They offer a programme of films throughout the year, and also provide a weekly youth training program offering skills both front of and back stage. They support young people with additional needs including Autism and Mental Health issues. For the older members they offer a chance to make new friends.
They have been operating in the local area in some form or another since the early 1930's, and have helped so many people through difficult times. They have given around 21 young people the drive to go on to study theatrical subjects at college or university.
The most recent challenge has been to find a new home for the theatre. The Trustees recently acquired a former school which they have now transformed into a lovely community Arts hub for themselves and other groups including rainbows, girl guides, scouts, yoga classes and the local community initiative group. They also have community allotments and plans to improve the outdoor space. They have recently been given over £100,000 towards an extension which will house a costume workshop which will allow the older members to train the younger members in sewing, costume design and provide life skills that they don't often learn nowadays. During the covid pandemic they had a chance to work on the fundraising for the extension and the development of the school into a state of the art theatre.
Environmentally they are doing a lot with the land they now have around the building including planting community allotments and creating a wildlife garden for birds, bees and insects. They have also planted over 30 trees and over 30 metres of hedging around the grounds. These go some way to offset the carbon footprint of the organisation. They are also investigating the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof.