Sometimes it's felt like this day would never come. Yet here we are and I am so thrilled to share that Eden Court is reopening on Thursday 29 October.
I am hugely proud of our staff who have worked so hard to get the doors open once more and ensure Eden Court is safe for you to visit. We have given the place a complete, socially distanced make-over and we hope you feel as comfortable here as we do.
Partially opening Eden Court in this way feels strange. One of the brilliant things about our fantastic building is that normally you will find so much going on around every corner. There can be young people practising dance moves, Tech crews having a well-earned tea-break, local business people at their laptops, parents bringing their wee-ones to classes and performers grabbing a bite to eat before their show. The place bustles and that’s what makes it special.
For now though, the building can’t be used in the same way. Until it can be, please embrace cinema and the building for what it can do for us all now, at this point in time, and that is to bring us together in the heart of our community.
Over the last few months many members of the public have been in touch with me asking when we’ll be re-opening. I know how so many of you love and have missed Eden Court. I have always tried to be as transparent as I can about how we run our organisation so here are the answers to some questions I have either had, or anticipate you might be curious about:
The pandemic has been financially devastating for the performing arts and Eden Court has not escaped this devastation. We have lost over 89% of our income this year. We have needed to keep as many Eden Court staff in the Job Retention Scheme as possible to mitigate future risk. Now that this scheme is coming to an end, and having taken receipt of some emergency funding, this is the right moment to re-open Eden Court.
When will live performances be back?
We don’t know. Scottish Government have currently not given permission for indoor live performance in Scotland. When the new tier system comes into effect live performances, with social distancing and face-coverings, look like they will be possible in Tier 1. When we have permission, we will activate lots of exciting plans to get audiences back in front of performers.
When will you restart the classes programme?
Similarly to live performance we currently do not have permission for most of our general public classes programme.
We have restarted our delivery of SQA qualifications further to consultation with the Highland Council. Our Cashback programme, where young people are referred to us from third-party agencies, is permissible under youth work guidelines. These activities started two weeks ago.
What are the financial risks of reopening?
In the spirit of complete honesty, we would be less financially exposed if we remained closed.
I have grappled with the tension between opening and staying moth-balled for many, many weeks but ultimately, we feel it’s our civic duty to give-it-a-go and we are confident our audiences and visitors will support us.
To cover our costs, we need to take a minimum of £1,000 per day in cinema tickets, food and drink when we open our doors.
There are two circumstances whereby Eden Court may close again: we are mandated to do so under the new tiered restrictions or we do not get the footfall we need to meet our budget projections and so we need to take further steps to protect the business in the long-term because we are by no means out of the woods yet.
The best way people can support us over the coming months is to visit, if you are in good health and feel comfortable to do so, because every person in the cinema, every Mocha sold and every cake served will be contributing to our recovery.
In return for your custom we promise you something we have all missed so much: the shared experience of extraordinary world-cinema; the best live theatre on the big screen and a commitment to finding creative ways to bring us together as and when we can put artists back in front of audiences.
Our mission is to bring the world to the Highlands and the Highlands to the world. That starts again, in earnest, this Thursday.
We can’t rebuild Eden Court without you. We’re in it together and we’re ready to go.
See you soon.
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