About the Arts Centre
Every year, the Arts Service of Ards and North Down Borough Council (ANDBC) delivers a packed programme of events across the borough.
With everything from creative weekly workshops and engaging exhibitions, to live music and theatre performances, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy, no matter what your interest.
Located in Newtownards’ beautifully restored Georgian Town Hall in the centre of town, Ards Arts Centre is a welcoming space which supports a wide range of community arts activities alongside our own initiatives. We regularly exhibit artwork in our two professional galleries – the Georgian Gallery and Sunburst Gallery – showcasing local, national and international artists as well as giving space to local projects.
While many of our activities take place at the Arts Centre, we also host various performance events at other suitable venues throughout the borough.
Whether you’re a bookworm, music fan or enjoy arts and crafts, our eclectic arts programme has a fun-filled festival for everyone, including:
- Ards International Guitar Festival
- Aspects Irish Literature Festival
- Ards Puppet Festival
- Creative Peninsula – a celebration of arts and crafts produced in the borough
Find out more by visiting our Festivals page
The Town Hall Through the Years
From Market House and Prison, Civic Offices to Arts Centre, the Town Hall in Newtownards has withstood its changing uses and still stands, reflecting over 250yrs of history and poised to fulfil a local community’s needs in years to come.
A major rebuilding programme to create a more classical grid pattern to Newtownards is begun by Alexander Stewart, landlord of the town.
Acclaimed Bristol architect, Fernando Stratford, prepares designs for a new Market house to be located in the centre of Newtownards.
Architect Stratford dies. However his designs are followed through.
Work begins on the Market House; designs include a holding cell for prisoners.
The new Market House stands complete.
A tower and cupola are added to the building.
Rebels attack the building on the 10 June 1798, during the 1798 Rebellion. They were met with musket fire from the Market House and were defeated.
The Market house became a Town Hall when it was presented to the Town Commissioners as a gift from Lord Londonderry in September 1897 with a lease of 999 years. The rent was an ear of corn per year (known as a pepper corn rent) on the condition that Lord Londonderry could have use of the building at 24 hours notice.
The open arches on the ground floor are closed in and filled with Georgian paned windows to coincide with the visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria to Mount Stewart.
Signing of the Ulster Covenant and Declaration on 28 September 1912, in the Town Hall, and other locations across Newtownards.
Some internal refurbishment is carried out to adapt the building for use as Council Offices.
Ards Arts Committee founded to run programme of Arts events.
The front façade is replaced, using Ashlar sandstone obtained from local Ballyalton Quarry.
Repairs, including the replacement of windows, are undertaken following a bomb explosion in Newtownards town centre.
Extensive internal renovations take place, aiming to retain the Town Hall’s architectural features while still providing for the contemporary needs of a modern public facility.
Officially opened after refurbishment by Mayor Councillor Alan McDowell on 24 February 2000.
The building continues to house Ards Arts Centre and the Arts Service of Ards and North Down Borough Council providing an extensive programme of arts events and activities.