An Unprecedented Pause’ by Millie Dunning, the cover image for The Courthouse’s September – December 2020 brochure
An Unprecedented Pause’ by Millie Dunning, the cover image for The Courthouse’s September – December 2020 brochure

Arts centre launches reopening season


Rural Arts today announces almost 100 events and activities to take place at The Courthouse – North Yorkshire’s only professionally run cross-arts centre – following its reopening on Tuesday 11th August 2020.

The new season – titled ‘Following An Unprecedented Pause’ – is a blend of rescheduled activity from March – July 2020, plus brand visual arts workshops, exhibitions and screenings of live performance. The season’s title is inspired by local teenager Millie Dunning, whose winning entry to the Thirsk School and Sixth Form College Community Art and Photography Competition graces the front cover of the season’s brochure.

The charity also confirms today a new re-opening date – Tuesday 11th August 2020 – alongside a temporary reduction in opening hours (Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 3pm).

The Courthouse, Thirsk
The Courthouse, Thirsk

Director and CEO, Max May said:

We were excited to use our publicly-mandated closure to progress our redevelopment of the building.

A number of bumps along the way – huge demand for tradespeople, issues with supply chains etc. – has meant we haven’t completed our journey yet, but we felt it was more important to reopen and get back to providing creative opportunities in person to enrich people’s lives and connect communities.

In order to make re-opening possible, Rural Arts is introducing a raft of new safety measures, including sanitisation stations and enhanced cleaning, reduced capacity in its activities, café and shop, a one-way system around the building, Perspex screens in all public areas and temperature checks on arrival for staff. Under current Government guidance, visitors to the arts centre will also have to give contact details for the lead member of their party (unless they are simply browsing the shop) and will have to wear face coverings, unless they are in one of the excepted categories.

Max May said:

We hope our new season – although about only half the usual size– has something for everyone. Even if you just come for a cup of coffee in the café, you can do so knowing you’re supporting a local charity.

The coming months will be a real challenge for Rural Arts, so we’re grateful of everyone’s patience and support as we navigate the ‘new normal’ together.

Since closing its doors, the Thirsk-based charity’s online initiative #RADISH – Rural Arts’ Daily Inspiration while Staying at Home – has reached over 60,000 people, with 6,000 of those engaging with free online visual arts workshops. Rural Arts is now working to reintroduce its outreach projects and plan for the future of ON Tour – its programme that brings professional performance to village halls – whilst indoor live performance is not permitted.

  • For more information about The Courthouse’s new season, visit
  • Rural Arts is a registered charity that delivers inspiring and inclusive creative opportunities that enrich lives and connect communities. We provide over 400 events and activities each year at our community arts centre in Thirsk, which is also home to an award-winning café, a gallery shop and rooms to hire. We programme 70 performances per year in rural venues and lead a range of wellbeing and employment programmes to support vulnerable people.

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