Friday, 23 January 2015

Celebrity Fund Raising

[In January 1915, a charity matinee was put on at a London theatre to raise money for the Gloves and Mittens Fund started by the Grand Duke Michael.  The following pieces are a letter announcing the event, and a report afterwards.]  

From the Dundee Courier, 11th January 1915.

The Countesses Zia and Nada Torby daughters of the Grand Duke Michael of Russia, Miss Violet M. de Trafford, and Miss Bridget Barclay write:—
On Friday next at the Alhambra Theatre a matinee will be given in aid of the Grand Duke Michael’s Gloves and Mittens Fund which is in need of additional support.  Since we started in October over 280,000 pairs of gloves and mittens have been sent to the front for the men in the trenches, and we have received very appreciative letters from the officers and men of the various regiments who have had them.  The King in subscribing £25 has been graciously pleased to express his satisfaction at the fund's good work, and the Queen has repeatedly shown her sympathy by numerous valuable gifts.  General Sir John Cowans, in communicating the thanks of Earl Kitchener and the Army Council, adds that “the army greatly appreciates the great trouble taken by all in collecting the gloves and mittens.”
What we have been able to do has been gladly done to help the brave troops who have done such magnificent work in Belgium and whose comfort and welfare ought to be our first care.  But we want to do more.  The original intention was to send out 500,000 pairs (250,000 of each), but as the Expeditionary Force has been so much strengthened that number will probably have to be increased.  The latest news from the War Office is— “Send all you can, and keep on sending.”
Those who cannot attend the matinee on Friday can help by subscribing towards the £25,000, of which £11,900 has been subscribed.  We ask for at least £500 a day, so that we may keep on sending until every man of our splendid army is provided.  £10 will equip 80 men.

From The Lichfield Mercury, 22nd January 1915.


The chief feature of the matinee at the Alhambra Theatre in aid of the Grand Duke Michael’s Glove and Mitten Fund, which was attended by Queen Alexandra, was the dazzling array of programme sellers.  In this case they were not actresses but girls and young women of very high degree.  Each wore a number on the left arm, and the programmes furnished a key.  So no mistake could possibly be made, and when you saw “No. 3” you consulted the guide book as it were, and found that it was the Duchess of Sutherland.  Besides her grace, Lady Drogheda, the Countess Zia and Nada Torby, Lady Rosemary Leveson-Gower, Lady Chichester, Lady Lisburne, and Miss de Trafford, to mention only a few, were present, as well as Lady Victoria Stanley, who, however, was not numbered on the card.
This catalogue method savoured somewhat of a race meeting, but it saved a lot of discussion among humble folk, and gave them plenty of value for their money apart from the actual entertainment.  But they got no change out of a sovereign [£1] for their programmes.  With the exception of a short play in which Miss Laurette Taylor, of “Peg o’ My Heart” fame appeared, the show consisted mainly of “turns” from the larger variety theatres.  The combined attractions resulted in a sum exceeding one thousand pounds, which will materially assist one among many worthy causes.

[This idea of putting on a display of programme sellers 'of very high degree' and effectively charging the 'humble folk' for the privilege of seeing them at close quarters seems exploitative to me, to both sides. Even the reporter seems a bit shocked at the £1 charged for a programme.]  

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