About Us


The Civic exists to provide Barnsley and the surrounding communities with a culturally significant voice.

Our aim is to present a progressive programme of events, exhibitions and performance that relate to the areas, social, economic and political attitudes whilst also entertaining and encouraging debate.

We are passionate about people of all ages and backgrounds having access to the best possible arts and cultural experiences on their own doorstep.


“We hope to generate debate, push boundaries, and encourage new ways of thinking for both those familiar with the arts and those new to this arena.”

‘We will deliver a programme that is accessible, inclusive and engaging; encouraging repeat attendance and connecting with audiences through content that is relevant and meaningful’

Our core values that underpin our programme are:


We seek to challenge the accepted and awaken audiences to possibilities


We will be a strong artistic voice in the region.


We will take risks, try new things and help others to do the same.


Our artistic programme is wholly accessible to all.


Our programme will resonate with our audiences and make an impact on both them and our town.

We intend to position The Civic as an ‘extraordinary destination for the arts’


Originally the Barnsley Mechanics Institute and Public Hall built by Henry Harvey in 1877, the original Civic was designed to support the town’s working classes to have access to education, specifically scientific and artisan training. There was a heavy emphasis on both social betterment and cultural enlightenment.

A few years later the building was gifted to the people of Barnsley by his brother Charles Harvey and renamed the Harvey Institute. It became the heart of the community providing many forms of entertainment from variety shows to cinema. It housed the public library, shops and provided space for public meetings and celebrations, speakers and education. The Public Hall was home to the School of Art for 70 years from 1878 to 1948 and was used as first headquarters and billets for Barnsley Pals during WW1.  The building eventually became a theatre, Barnsley Civic Theatre, in 1962 but sadly closed to the public completely in 1998.


Credit: Barnsley Archive and Local Studies

For the next stage in its evolution, The Civic reopened in 2009 with a new theatre space and contemporary art gallery but unfortunately the front doors on Eldon Street are a ghost of the buildings former grandeur. Elaborate mosaics and the original ceiling are hidden from public view and three unfinished floors remain unable to be used at the centre of the building.

We are incredibly proud to be the current custodians of this amazing building and we are currently working hard to raise the funds needed to re-open up the whole site for the people of Barnsley to use.

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