Rural Arts in Thirsk announces that The Courthouse art centre will stay closed until August

A leading North Yorkshire arts centre is to stay closed until August so "transformational" development work can be carried out over the summer.

Rural Arts in Thirsk closed The Courthouse - described as North Yorkshire’s only professionally run cross-arts centre - after lockdown measures were imposed in March.

Its chief executive Max May has now announced that rather than re-opening in the coming weeks as restrictions ease it will remain closed until August 3.

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This is so a £200,000 redevelopment of the building, which started in February and will see the introduction of state-of-the-art equipment, a new cafe and shop and vital structural repairs, can continue.

Since lockdown the charity’s online initiative #RADISH – Rural Arts’ Daily Inspiration while Staying at Home – has reached more than 3,000 people. It has also reintroduced two of its outreach projects, which usually take place all across North Yorkshire, in virtual formats.

Mr May said: "Coronavirus has had a devastating impact, locally, nationally and internationally, and Rural Arts has been investigating the different ways we can move forward through this challenging period.

"Given the impact that Government-mandated closures and social distancing will have on our activity for months to come, after consultation with staff and trustees, we’ve decided the best course of action is to keep the building closed and to forge ahead with our redevelopment.

Max May, chief executive of Rural Arts in Thirsk. Pic: Gary Longbottom

"This will allow us to make transformational changes to our building and ensure that when we do reopen, The Courthouse is better than ever.

“As we approach our thirtieth anniversary, and enter the “new normal”, we’re looking forward to providing our communities with exciting new equipment and an improved experience. We’re grateful for your patience and support as we start this exciting journey.”

The charity is now getting in touch with customers to reschedule dates for postponed activities and events.