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  Centre 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?
I have been Centre Director at Courtyard Arts since July 2011. Reporting to the trustees, I am responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Centre which includes managing three members of staff, 14 tutors and over 50 volunteers. The role is incredibly varied and, as a result, very interesting – covering all aspects of running a small organisation.

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.
This is the most enjoyable and rewarding job I have ever had and it gives me immense pleasure to see people benefiting from what we offer within our four small walls as well as the work we do in the community.

Sarah Heath  Centre Administrator

Sarah HeathProfessional background
After completing a History of Art degree, my career has been largely spent in corporate property investment. After a stint at an architect’s office, I spent 11 years at Legal & General Property, working my way from Team Secretary to Marketing Manager, after completing a diploma in Marketing. I oversaw all communications, organised events, and worked with designers (often dabbling in the graphic design of the materials, too).

After a gap spent looking after my little people, I longed for a new challenge to fit around family commitments, whilst also nurturing my instinct to be creative and return to my artistic roots. Courtyard has been super supportive to me and in return I hope my enthusiasm for this wonderful creative hub will shine through.

What do you do at Courtyard?
I became Centre Administrator in February 2018. As part of a small team the job is by nature varied, but my duties include handling enquiries, classes administration, looking after our great team of stewards and volunteers and communicating with class members.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
I first heard about Courtyard from a friend whose child attended Tiny Artists classes here. I put my daughter on the waiting list and we had a wonderful year with tutor Polly Kiernan, being completely inspired by the way she teaches. I then found out about the Gallery and could not resist picking up a painting or two… now I work here that temptation is really a problem! I love working at Courtyard. I get to meet many different people, but they all have the same thing in common – an instinct inside to be creative and we can help them on that creative journey!

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  Marketing & Membership Manager

mattProfessional background
My pre-Courtyard career was largely spent at the British Film Institute.  I coordinated and marketed 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?
My current role has been newly created in 2018 as Courtyard’s activities and popularity have swelled. It includes managing our membership records and communicating with our great cohort of members, friends and customers.  I also oversee our activities across the website, social media and print and hope to be able to do justice to our busy programme and all that goes on at Courtyard. I was previously the Centre Administrator, bringing me into contact with the great mix of people who make up the Courtyard Arts ‘family’.

What do you like about working at Courtyard?
I first encountered Courtyard as a welcoming and characterful local gallery. Through volunteering – and subsequently joining the staff – I have had the opportunity to get to know many interesting people.  Those who discover Courtyard know it is a great asset to the local community, and we have the potential to take our unique establishment to an even wider audience.