Although Courtyard relies on its volunteers to operate, we have a small team of staff who are responsible for the running of the Centre:

Melanie Ewer  Development Director

Melanie EwerProfessional background
Chartered Member of the CIPD, various personnel/HR roles including HR Manager for Van Hage for 9 years. Prior to that I trained as bi-lingual secretary (French & Italian) and worked at Brocket Hall firstly as PA to Lord Brocket then as a Conference Executive.

What do you do at Courtyard?
From the beginning of January 2017 I have been given the newly-created role of Development Director. This position has been created to focus on the project to redevelop Courtyard Arts Centre.  We have exciting plans to extend the Centre – including an additional classroom – and to create a glazed atrium over the existing Courtyard.  We have planning permission but need now to raise the funds.  I will be working closely with volunteer business consultant Janet Townsend-Stojic in order to secure the funding to realise our dreams for the future of the Centre.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
The special atmosphere of the place and its people, it has an energy and magic of its own. The environment is incredibly inspiring and it is wonderful seeing artists of all ages and ability develop and explore their creativity.

Michael Smith  Interim Centre Director

Michael SmithProfessional background
I have spent over 30 years in the publishing industry in both marketing and business development, including as a marketing/commercial director. In recent years I have consulted for publishers, not-for-profit bodies and membership organisations. I hold a degree in History, the CIM postgraduate diploma in Marketing and certification from the Professional Pricing Society. I am also a qualified print-maker.

What do you do at Courtyard?
My role includes everything from managing the team here (staff, tutors and volunteers) to general management, training and development, financial management, marketing and pricing development, and systems functionality. A key part of my role is also to work with others in the local community and to establish strategic alliances between Courtyard and other organisations. One might say it’s quite a demanding role – but one which is ever-changing and therefore consistently interesting.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
One way or another, I have been involved with Courtyard since it first opened and really admire the friendly, professional approach to the development of artists and the showcasing of art in the community. The range of facilities here, and the commitment of all the staff and volunteers, is truly astonishing. In my view, Courtyard has a real power to enable individuals of all ages and skills to develop their artistic confidence and freedom of expression. The friendliness and skill of its staff, the wonderful contributions from the volunteers and the relaxing atmosphere of the place, make the Courtyard great place to work – and to learn.

Peer Towers  Gallery Manager

Peer TowersProfessional background
Degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art; Postgraduate Certificate in Education.
Managing Higher and Further Education Fine Art programmes. Teaching on a range of art and design courses, with teacher training mentoring responsibilities.
Staff Governor for 8 years on the board of Hertford Regional College.
I also run my own painting and decorating business.

What do you do at Courtyard?
Organising exhibitions at Courtyard Arts and Hertford Theatre galleries. Liaising with staff and volunteers to promote the visual arts in the local and wider community. Working with artists, curating exhibitions, marketing our activities – including social media, and overseeing artists’ sales, contributing to the income of Courtyard Arts.
Working with outreach and artist-in-residence programmes. Collaborating with outside organisations – including universities, colleges and schools – as well as other galleries. Helping to promote Courtyard Arts in Hertfordshire and beyond.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
The vibrant and positive energy directed towards creative endeavours. Working with and encountering accomplished and diverse people with a wide range of backgrounds, skills and interests. The opportunity to shape new ideas for displaying the visual arts. Networking – finding and making connections with artists, new and old. Curating art, design and craft works for public consumption and helping to promote practitioners at various stages of their personal development.

Matt Ker  Centre Administrator

mattProfessional background
My pre-Courtyard career was largely spent at the British Film Institute.  I coordinated enquiry services, carried out research on film and TV, and developed content for the BFI website.  After leaving the BFI, I occasionally freelanced as a copy editor and researcher/writer, whilst balancing work with family duties. As a volunteer, I have edited the Courtyard website since 2013, having previously been a steward. I have an MA in Image Studies.

What do you do at Courtyard?
I became Centre Administrator in August 2015. As part of a small team the job is by nature varied, but my duties include handling enquiries, classes administration, managing our membership records and communicating with members, volunteers and students.  As Website Editor I endeavour to keep up to date with our busy programme and hope that the site does justice to all that goes on at Courtyard. I am also a member of the Marketing committee.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
I first encountered Courtyard as a welcoming and characterful local gallery. Through volunteering – and now joining the staff – I have the opportunity to get to know the many interesting people who make up the Courtyard ‘family’.  Courtyard is a great asset to the local community.