Amid furious protests, Sunday cinema is to continue after a successful trial on the Sabbatarian island of Lewis, it was announced yesterday.
The three-film trial – spread over three months – at An Lanntair in Stornoway had been met with protests by church groups.
However An Lanntair said yesterday that the response to the sell-out films and other Sunday events had been good and it plans to start Sunday opening “as soon as operationally possible”.
In a statement, the centre said: “The aim of these trial events was to explore whether audiences would like to see the arts centre open on Sundays, to further An Lanntair’s audience research into this question.
“An Lanntair’s board has now reviewed the results of these trial events, examining the numbers of audiences and ticket sales, and the impact on staff, audiences and the organisation as a whole.
“Each of the three Sunday cinema screenings was very well attended, demonstrating that there is strong demand for a cinema offer on Sundays.
“The arts activities for children and families were popular too. The trial has evidenced that audiences would like to see the arts centre open on Sundays.
“Feedback from the trial has shown that opening the arts centre as an inclusive and welcoming community space on Sundays has the potential to contribute to the health and well-being of people across our community.
“It is important to be clear that An Lanntair exists to serve the entire community, and can serve different parts of it in different ways. Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion means that we are continuously seeking new ways to support people to access our programme, services and activities.”
Protests met the first films to be shown on Sundays in a public cinema on the Sabbatarian island. But every one of the 183 seats for Black Panther, Coco and Star Wars: Episode V111 – The Last Jedi – sold out.
However, protesters at An Lanntair in Stornoway have said they would continue to fight for the sanctity of the Lord’s Day if the trial turns into a permanent fixture.
Church elder Angus Macmillan of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Stornoway, said:”An Lanntair, which means ‘lantern’ in Gaelic is putting the lights out on our island’s Christian heritage and it’s shameful.
“I think there’s been a significant support (for maintaining the Sabbath). Even people not from the Christian community are concerned about the cultural impact on their way of life.
“The majority of the population are opposed to this. We can’t see a significant demand and if An Lanntair decide to continue with this there will be other action.
“This is a publicly funded organisation. I would expect the point to be made through democratic channels and to the board of An Lanntair. We will not give up.”