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Much-needed boost for north music scene as Eden Court announces outdoor festival this summer

Eden Court Under Canvas.
Eden Court Under Canvas.

Eden Court Theatre plans to welcome back music fans for a series of outdoor performances over three months this summer.

The venue announced its aim to bring back the Under Canvas event from July 1 to September 30 on the anniversary of it closing its doors due to the Covid pandemic.

The programme will be co-curated with Gaelic arts organisation Fèis Rois. 

Under Canvas will feature live music sessions, DJ sets, a bar serving local beers, gins and whisky and an outdoor pizza oven in the theatre grounds overlooking the River Ness.

And it will provide opportunities to at least 100 freelance and independent musicians who have been hit badly by the pandemic.

It has also created a post for a Scottish-based theatre or events designer to help organise the festival and the spirit of socialising in a safe way for visitors, staff and artists.

Under Canvas started in 2018, showcasing traditional and contemporary Scottish music.

It quickly grew into a successful event, popular with both local people and visitors.

In its second year it was nominated for Event of the Year at the 2019 MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.

Under Canvas

Eden Court chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “After such a challenging 12 months it’s fitting that in the one-year anniversary of closure, thanks to the publication of the Scottish Government’s revised strategic framework for easing lockdown restrictions, we are able to announce our planned return of Under Canvas in 2021.

“We are incredibly proud of all that festival has achieved.

“I’m delighted that Fiona Dalgetty, and her wonderful team at Fèis Rois, will once again partner with us to bring the best live music to Under Canvas audiences. Myself and my team can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Eden Court this summer.”

Ms Dalgetty, Fèis Rois’ chief executive, added: “After a year of digital output, it is a joy to be planning live music events that will showcase many of the internationally acclaimed musicians that we have living right here in our communities across the Highlands.

“Under Canvas will provide much-needed paid performance opportunities for established artists at this time, as well as a space for emerging musicians to showcase their work.

“We look forward to bringing people together in a safe, comfortable setting to reconnect and enjoy music together.”

Earlier this month Eden Court was rewarded for converting its main auditorium into a humanitarian aid centre while being forced to close during the pandemic.

The venue used the stage and 850 seats in its Empire Theatre to collect around 1,000 food parcels each week.

Working with Highland Council these were then distributed to people shielding across the Highlands by a team of volunteers.

Eden Court also set up and staffed a helpline for vulnerable people using the box office phone system and organised creative activities for children.

Its efforts led to it being one of four UK arts organisations, and the only one in Scotland, to receive the Award for Civic Arts Organisations by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), in partnership with King’s College London.

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