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Eden Court Theatre staff in to help bolster Highland Council services after two organisations join forces to safeguard jobs and the Inverness site's future in the wake of 'unprecedented' disruption from the Covid-19 coronavirus

By Philip Murray

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Eden Court Theatre at night.
Eden Court Theatre at night.

HUNDREDS of jobs at a key Highland attraction have been safeguarded after Eden Court Theatre and the council linked-up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The theatre closed its doors to the public at 5pm today in response to the outbreak, but its 200 staff will work to help bolster Highland Council services until the site can reopen – after UK government advice meant delivering the theatre's programme was "not sustainable".

Highland Council's chief executive, Donna Manson, said the link-up between the two organisations recognised the "importance of the staff and the 200 jobs to the Highland economy" and the " huge risk and cost to the council and the public" if the area was "to lose such an asset" as the theatre.

James Mackenzie-Blackman, Chief Executive of Eden Court said: “These are unprecedented times. Eden Court needs the support of all those who know the venue, and all those who have a stake in the organisation, to support it over the coming weeks and months.

“Therefore, following discussions with the Highland Council, Eden Court staff will, over the coming days and weeks, be invited to support the delivery of Highland Council’s resilience response.

"Many Eden Court staff have specific and unique skills that could positively benefit the Highland community in these difficult times and the board and leadership team of Eden Court are pleased to be able to enter into this unique relationship with the Council and are grateful for their support in these challenging times.”

Donna Mansonadded: “We have been proactive and have come up with a very innovative solution to both address the crisis at Eden Court with the needs of our communities.

"This is a unique ground-breaking opportunity, the first in the UK we believe, Eden Court plays a very valuable role and we recognise the importance of the staff and the 200 jobs to the Highland economy.

“The council owns the theatre building and it would be a huge risk and cost to the council and the public to lose such an asset.

"Eden Court staff have many skills and can play an important role in community resilience, addressing isolation and assisting with our education programme to minimise the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our communities. As more details emerge we will keep everyone updated.”

The two organisations said there were several examples where Eden Court staff could help to support council services.

These include:

  • Eden Court’s Engagement team, who work with children, young people and the community, will collaborate with the Highland Council on the delivery of learning outcomes for Highland young people.
  • Many Eden Court staff have experience working with vulnerable groups, these skills could be redeployed.
  • Eden Court staff will work with council staff to plan activities to tackle loneliness over the coming weeks and months.

Over the coming days Eden Court staff will undertake a skills audit to capture languages spoken and other special skills. These skills and resources will then be shared with the council to relieve pressure on their own service delivery.

Meanwhile, Eden Court said that over the next week it will be contacting people who have bought tickets for postponed productions and film screenings which would have taken place between now and April 20.

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