Who We Are
The Courtyard is Herefordshire’s centre for the arts. We provide a space for innovation, creativity, and participation for the whole community.
The Courtyard attracts over 250,000 visitors every year from all over the UK. Inside, the arts centre houses:
- a 390-seat main auditorium
- a 96-seat Studio
- visual arts galleries
- meeting and function rooms
- a rehearsal studio with sprung floor
- a café bar and restaurant
The two auditoria can both be transformed from traditional raked layouts to flat floor with a flexibility not seen in many venues.
The Courtyard was designed by Birmingham-based Architects Glenn Howells Associates. It was the first major National Lottery capital project new build funded by the Arts Council in England. It opened in September 1998 with extra support from Hereford City Council. Followed by incorporation into Herefordshire Council.
Proudly built on the site of the old Nell Gwynne Theatre, The Courtyard continues the site’s purpose as a home for arts and creativity in Herefordshire.
The building was designed to be inspirational and contemporary. It aimed to lead the way for future architectural developments in the historic City of Hereford. It forms two separate spaces internally and is enveloped in a large, glass outer shell creating a light and airy atmosphere within.
In 2020 The Courtyard, along with many organisations worldwide, was deeply affected by the pandemic. Covid-19 saw the arts centre go dark for an extended period, unseen since its opening in 1998. Fortunately, through lockdowns and social distancing measures the planned capital expansion project was able to go ahead. And, in October 2020 The Courtyard’s building was renewed. It now features:
- a revamped Box Office and retail area
- an new workshop and performance space
- an extended Café Bar including 1st floor roof top terrace
The Courtyard is an accessible building and offers good, free ease of access to all front-of-house areas. There are numerous access features that are regularly updated and adapted. The organisation works to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
In 2003 The Courtyard became a Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) of Arts Council England (ACE). It became a recipient of additional revenue support from them as part of the National Theatre Review. Since then it has received National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status from ACE. This support allows The Courtyard to be a pillar of Herefordshire’s community. It offers artistic excellence, both on stage and through its extensive education and participation programme.
Whilst directly investing in its own productions, The Courtyard has offered its facilities to launch productions for touring. The Courtyard has co-produced and premiered new work with:
- Open Sky Theatre
- Feral Productions
- New Perspectives Theatre Company
- Blackeyed Theatre
- Foursight Theatre
The Courtyard is home to the following arts organisations:
It is also the main presenting venue for Borderlines Film Festival, the largest Rural Film Festival in the UK. Annually, The Courtyard hosts many local community companies as part of its programme of work. Including X-entricity, Hereford Musical Theatre Company, Hereford Pantomime Society, Hereford Academy of Dance, The Gilbert & Sullivan Society and many more.
The Courtyard runs a very successful bar and catering operation. They provide high-quality, locally-sourced and produced food in an attractive setting. Many customers choose to eat in the Café Bar prior to a show or film. Others appreciate the light, open space as a place to enjoy lunch with their friends.
The Courtyard is open to the public Monday – Saturday from 10am. Pop by anytime to wander around, have a bite in the Café Bar, muse over the open exhibitions, browse our shop stocked by local makers, join in a dance workshop or, of course, experience spectacular film and sensational live shows.