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Council snub theatre’s request to reduce influence on its operations

Eden Court
Eden Court

Councillors issued a dramatic snub yesterday to an attempt by the north’s biggest theatre to reduce their influence on its operations.

Bosses at publicly subsidised Eden Court had requested the council cuts its representation from four to two on its 12-strong board in a move to assert its independence.

Independent councillor Andrew Baxter said that “on face value” it appeared a reasonable request.

But the Lochaber member reminded colleagues that council policy was to increase its influence on a wide range of local organisations.

He also highlighted the local authority’s £500,000 annual grant to the theatre.

“It would seem odd for us to diminish our involvement and influence on an important organisation within the council area,” he said.

Many fellow councillors agreed, including SNP Inverness member Ken Gowans who was “surprised and disturbed” by the theatre’s request.

As part of recent council budget savings, the Eden Court grant was trimmed while many other organisations that traditionally receive considerably less had theirs’ slashed or terminated.

Councillor Gowans said the theatre was “not in a position to begin to cut the umbilical chord from this council.”

Eden Court management did not respond to the council’s decision yesterday.

It is self-sufficient to the tune of about 78% of its annual income while 9% (£500,000) comes from the council and 13% (£700,000) from the Scottish Government agency Creative Scotland.

The theatre provides about 170 jobs and is estimated to be worth £9million a year to the Highland economy.

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