A WHARFEDALE arts centre has announced details of its plans for a phased re-opening.

Otley Courthouse, like similar venues all over the country, has been closed since the end of March due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But now restrictions are easing it is busy preparing for when it can welcome the public again.

The Courthouse says a ‘small army’ of volunteers descended on it last week to carry out all kinds of tasks to make sure the building is in top condition.

The work has included:

*Deep-cleaning the cafe and steam cleaning seating

*Painting walls and doors

*Washing the floors and cleaning the curtains.

Otley Courthouse’s Chair, David Robson, said: “As a first step to reopening our room hirers have been contacted to invite them back - and in order to ensure that proper distancing can take place they have been offered the Courtroom, instead of some of the smaller meeting rooms, if they feel more comfortable in the larger room.

“Some room hirers such as Otley Brass Band, Otley Chamber Orchestra, and the Courthouse Community Choir will have to wait a little longer due to continuing restrictions on gathering for these activities.

“Our programming is likely to start with films, streamed events, and talks - but with audiences restricted to between 30 and 40 instead of the usual 100-plus. And a series of family arts and craft workshops is also being planned for the summer.

“Music and theatre events are still some way off though - it is not financially viable to run events of this kind with such restricted audience numbers.

“The Courthouse has joined the Music Venues Trust so that it is represented in talks between the industry and the Government, and is continuing to do all that it can, including running online events such as quizzes and lunchtime recitals, to ensure Otley has a fully functioning arts and resource Centre when the coronavirus pandemic is over.”

Commenting on the Government’s recently announced £1.57 billion ‘rescue package’ for the arts and heritage sectors, he added: “We are pleased to learn about the Government’s support package for venues.

“We will examine the details and do whatever we can to ensure that Otley Courthouse’s future as a cultural hub for the community is protected.”