Case Study: Film Family Saturdays!

Following on from The Courtyard’s first Family Festival in October 2015, there was an overwhelming response from customers to have something regular, affordable with added value activity for all the family to do. The format every Saturday is free activity, followed by the film. Films are often not mainstream films with themes such as climate change, environment, etc.

  • #CYfamilysats

Project aims

  • Working with The Courtyard’s film programmer the venue has increased the risk taking with lesser known films

  • Building on this idea The Courtyard has managed to establish a unique brand for families across programming for all events at the Arts Centre

  • We have managed to develop the project with the help of the BFI Hub to employ a young person (under 14) to project manage, programme and market the Saturday events


  • Film attendance was on average 35% (rising from an average of 10%)

  • 29% of the audience are repeat attendees and often come at least twice a month


From January to June 2016 we have shown 14 films, some of the titles include:
Big Knights
Norm of the North

Key partnerships

Key Partnerships: Hereford Times (the local weekly newspaper) came on board as a Media Partner, which involved them covering the selected Courtyard Family Saturdays event every week.

Budget in brief

Budget in brief: Income through ticket sales £4,200
Income through sponsorship £500
Average ticket price £3 a ticket

What worked

  • Great engagement with an existing and new family audiences

  • Creation of a fun, safe and friendly environment

  • Engagement with a new section of the community, targeting hard to reach groups

  • Broadening horizons of choice to customers making all films as inclusive as possible

  • As well as inclusive it has been made accessible for all!

What has been difficult

  • The age requirements of the pre activities before film can be tricky on some films, for example an activity for a 3 year old won’t appeal to a 9 year old

  • There was some staff resistance and understanding of the project

  • Programming decisions can be quite difficult depending on what is out and about to play

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • Source more funding to make the space a more friendly ‘play area’ family friendly

  • More work with the in-house Cafe Bar team to provide catering

Awareness / Attitudes

Courtyard Family Saturdays is targeted/marketed at lower economic geographical areas of the local community as a safe, affordable way to spend the weekend with the family. The communication is geared around the whole family coming to enjoy activity. The Courtyard used data from Mosaic profile reports to target the communities.

The Courtyard was able to employ an under 14 year old with a paid salary to manage the running of the events, which has enabled work experience and professional development to the employed young person.

The format of the pre-activity on the Saturdays is aimed at children and families working together, meeting new people and socialising with contemporaries.


The main target audience for the original Family Festival was lower economic groups which showed in the county as mainly living in <HR2 7> Theses were audiences that don’t normally engage with arts/film with high population of children in the geographical area.

To mark directly to this group of people The Courtyard put on a ‘roving’ film and free activity (make a shield to be hung at The Courtyard) in the three village halls in the local community. Over 150 people attended the three events in the week and 20% of these have then gone on to attend a Courtyard Family Saturdays events at The Courtyard.

Knowledge & Experience

The themes of the Saturday’s vary depending on the subject matter of the film. For example we had a film about climate change (Norm of the North), some of the activity before the film covered family friendly facts about climate change.

All of the pre-activity for films involves creativity in all forms. Every week there is a ‘hands-on’ activity for young people to express themselves. With funding from the BFI we have also been able to have bigger workshops, for example after Ghosthunters The Courtyard paid for a practitioner to come and give some ‘green screen’ training for free of charge for all customers.

Social Cohesion

The original concept of the Family Festival (Oct 2015, which was the catalyst of the Courtyard Family Saturdays) was to try and break down barriers of the building not being accessible and ‘high art’. This saw the massive increase of new customers to the building.

Herefordshire is a very sparse rural county, and having a centre point for families in the regions to meet and socialise with families and young people with a similar age/interest.

What audiences said

  • “Very friendly and helpful staff, activities clearlyrnexplained. Both our daughters were involvedrnand enjoyed it!”

  • “Fab - Really gentle and inclusive”

  • “I learned a lot!”

What professionals, press and partners said

  • “It was great working with The Courtyard, and great to see the activity before the film so well attended” – Activity practitioners

  • “The Courtyard has done an excellent job at attracting the wider community, we loved working with them to target the community too” – Tescos regional manager