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Sunshine and smiles as Eden Court theatre in Inverness sees the return of the award-winning Under Canvas summer festival


By Alasdair Fraser

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Eden Court chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman and Under Canvas producer Seona McClintock. Picture: Gary Anthony
Eden Court chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman and Under Canvas producer Seona McClintock. Picture: Gary Anthony

Under Canvas hopes to bring a welcome economic boost to local businesses and the hard-hit Highland music scene.

Co-curated by traditional arts organisation Fèis Rois, it will bring live entertainment to the Inverness venue’s front lawn for five days a week until September 30.

It comes after the family-friendly festival was cancelled last year amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Showcasing some of the finest local musical talent, the first three nights are sold out, with only limited tickets remaining for this Sunday’s performances.

Up to 86 tickets are on sale for each session. And hopes are high that capacity will increase as Covid-related restrictions ease.

In all – with the Under Canvas Across the Highlands tour also hitting Tain, Wick, Ullapool, Kyleakin, Ballachulish and Strontian – more than £70,000 is being invested in around 200 contracts for live acts.

Equally, everything from sound technicians to table-tops, food, drink and attractively decorated tents have been sourced locally.

Under Canvas is on the front lawn at Eden Court. Picture: Gary Anthony
Under Canvas is on the front lawn at Eden Court. Picture: Gary Anthony

Last night, striking the first notes of a diverse and packed performance programme ahead was the traditional Amy Henderson Trio and folk performers Assynt.

Eden Court’s chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “It is just wonderful to bring live entertainment back to audiences for the first time since March 2020.

“Artists and musicians, as predominantly freelance workers, have been devastated by the pandemic.

“We’re delighted to be providing these employment opportunities. It’s a huge lift for them, for local business, and for us at Eden Court.

“With two shows every day, we’ve already been overwhelmed by the public’s response. We really hope Courier readers come along and support us – and keep coming back this summer.”

Despite sizeable investment in the event, the theatre hopes Under Canvas will break even. Reconnecting with audiences and artists is the priority, however.

Those attending must pay a refundable £5 deposit, but the fee can be donated towards helping Eden Court thrive again.

Under Canvas producer Seona McClintock said: “After everything we’ve all been through, we’re just thrilled to be bringing live music back and helping artists who have really struggled.

“Between Inverness for three months, and three weeks on the road across the Highlands, the hope is that as many people as possible can enjoy the atmosphere, chill out in a beautiful, safe setting with a drink and bite to eat, and listen to some really terrific music.

“Hopefully, they will leave feeling good and be all the more ready to return to indoor performances when the time is right.”

Related article: Under Canvas outdoor summer music festival is going on tour


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