How a derelict building on Bangor’s seafront became Northern Ireland’s newest venue

How a derelict building on Bangor’s seafront became Northern Ireland’s newest venue

Front elevation of The Court House, Bangor building in the evening.
The Court House, Bangor.

Heritage Enterprise

Date awarded
Local Authority
Ards and North Down
Open House Festival Ltd
Award Given
Thanks to overwhelming community support, Open House turned a former bank and court house in Bangor into a contemporary music venue, saving it from dereliction.

With nearly £1million in National Lottery funding, the arts charity has opened the first dedicated cultural venue for the city which is home to over 80,000 people.

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “Following a community asset transfer, high quality, conservation-led repairs mean the building is no longer at risk. The passion and commitment shown by the Open House team is boosting the local economy, creating employment and aiding regeneration.”

Kieran Gilmore, Open House Director said: “One of the key things for us is for the Court House to support and showcase local talent.”

A crowd watches a band on stage at The Court House, Bangor
The Court Room Performance Space.

A platform for local talent 

The Court House, Bangor reopened in October 2022 and since then, it has:

  • welcomed 35,702 attendees
  • held 403 events ranging from comedy, theatre, film, visual art, heritage, books and spoken word
  • enjoyed 1,116 live performances from 615 individual musicians across folk, rock, pop, jazz, blues soul, Americana, electronic and Irish traditional genres

Over half of these events were led by artists and creatives local to the Bangor and North Down area and nearly half of the events were free.

Alison Gordon, Open House Development Director said: “It's helping to bring different audiences but for lots of different genres, tastes and age groups. Local people are really proud of the fact that we've managed to achieve this."

An award winning project

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, a long-time supporter and fundraiser for the Court House vision, visited his hometown to present Open House with their 2023 National Lottery Project of the Year award

It’s the first project from Northern Ireland to win the accolade with thousands of people voting to recognise their achievements. It secured a £5,000 cash prize that will go towards redeveloping the rear yard. Almost 4,000 projects from across the UK were nominated and the Court House was one of 17 finalists to face the public vote.

Watch Alison and Kieran discuss the impact of their award winning project. 

If you query is regarding our application portal, please contact our support team.