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Eden Court Theatre in Inverness secures another £500,000 grant to help it recover from the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic; the Highland venue secured the funds from the Weston Culture Fund

By Philip Murray

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Eden Court. Picture: Gary Anthony.
Eden Court. Picture: Gary Anthony.

DELIGHTED theatre bosses have received another £500,000 to help the Highlands' biggest venue recover from the Covid-19 pandemic's effects.

Eden Court, in Inverness, was one of dozens of successful arts organisations to receive a share of £30 million from the Weston Culture Fund.

The fund has awarded grants ranging from between £100,000 to £1.5 million, depending on the size of the recipient.

And Eden Court's chief executive has promised to "steward these funds carefully" to ensure the "best impact possible" after receiving £500,000 – the largest single grant awarded to a Scottish-based organisation. Other big winners in Scotland included the likes of the Centre for the Moving Image (£355,300), Scottish Opera (£285,610) and the National Theatre of Scotland (£185,000).

James Mackenzie-Blackman said: "[We're] incredibly grateful for this opportunity. It feels precious, because it’s specifically funding to invest in artists. We’ll steward these funds carefully to ensure they have the best impact possible."

And a spokesman for Eden Court added: "We’re absolutely thrilled to be named as a recipient of the fund. This investment in our recovery, and future, will enable us to produce, create and develop work for audiences and communities across the Highlands and beyond. Thank you!"

The Weston Culture Fund was created by the Weston family in response to the devastating impact of Covid-19, and is supporting a diverse range of organisations – from museums to regional theatres and national touring ballet companies.

And the Garfield Weston Foundation’s trustees decided to increase the fund by more than 20 per cent – to over £30 million – after seeing the level of creativity and determination from arts organisations which have been hit by the pandemic and are fighting hard to ‘keep the lights on’.

The foundation’s director, Philippa Charles, said: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many. Our trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences.

"What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.

"We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us – bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”

Eden Court's successful application is one of several recent grant boosts for the theatre. Just last month it was awarded £800,000 after the Scottish Government announced £3 million of new Covid pandemic aid for the arts.

Related news: Eden Court secures £800,000 share of new £3 million arts support from Scottish Government

Related news: Highland theatre boss hopes for return of live performances by the summer following lifeline grant from Scottish Government

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