The Highlands’ biggest arts complex has welcomed new “lifeline” emergency funding support from the Scottish Government.
Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, Scotland’s largest single-site arts venue, will receive £800,000 of the £3 million of additional Covid-19 funding for culture.
Aberdeen Performing Arts, which runs His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Music Hall and The Lemon Tree, will receive £1.4 million.
Eden Court chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “All of us at Eden Court are immensely grateful to the Scottish Government for this lifeline support.
“Together with the communities we serve, and with the artists of the Highlands and Islands, this support will allow us to continue fulfilling our mission to bring the world to the Highlands, and the Highlands to the world.”
Like other arts venues, the theatre has suffered financially during the pandemic. It was unable to stage its popular pantomime for the first time in its 44-year history, meaning losses of more than £350,000.
Chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts Jane Spiers also welcomed the additional money.
She said: “This funding will go a long way towards helping us survive, thrive and play our part in the cultural and economic recovery of the north-east.
“As an arts charity with a high reliance on earned income and over 500 show cancellations to date through 2021 and into 2022, it provides us with a vital lifeline.
“This new funding recognises the unique scale of the challenge facing large scale theatres and concert halls, the significance of culture to the region’s economic future and the vital role Aberdeen Performing Arts plays in civic, cultural and community life.
“We wouldn’t be here today without all the financial support we’ve been able to access to date from the Scottish Government, from our local authority and generous donations from audiences. It means more than words can say. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back when it’s safe to do so.”
Capital Theatres, which operates the Festival Theatre, the King’s Theatre and The Studio in Edinburgh, will also receive £800,000 as part of the package.
It takes the overall emergency Covid-19 funding from the Scottish Government to £2.38m for Aberdeen Performing Arts, £2.07m for Eden Court and £1.55m for Capital Theatres.
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This funding will help to secure the future of three of Scotland’s important independent performing arts charities, protecting jobs and addressing some of the financial pressures they are facing.
“These venues all receive UK and international touring work of major scale, make a significant contribution to the economy and support a network of arts organisations, artists and creatives at the heart of our cities and regions.
“The Scottish Government has allocated more than £120 million of additional funding to support culture and heritage since the start of the pandemic and we will continue to listen to the needs of the sectors.”
It comes days after the findings of a survey were published, revealing some mixed opinions on returning to theatres this year.
While more than half the population say they miss attending events, some respondents were reluctant to go back and a growing number said they will wait for a vaccine first.
And despite 98% of the population enjoying cultural activity from home during the pandemic, only 17% were willing to pay for artistic content that has moved online due to Covid.
The independent research published by Creative Scotland into public attitudes to cultural participation and attendance during the pandemic did, however, offer hope that audience levels could increase in the future.
More than half of those who took part – 52% – expect to attend the arts at the same levels as before the pandemic and 23% said they would attend more often.