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Online gigs provide lifeline for Nairn Community and Arts Centre


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Tia McGraff and her husband Tommy Parham.
Tia McGraff and her husband Tommy Parham.

A country singer with her roots in Nairnshire is set to entertain music lovers with a special online performance.

Tia McGraff, whose family hail from the area and who has sung and lived in Nashville, Tennessee and is now based in Canada, will perform in one of three online gigs being staged throughout January by Nairn Community and Arts Centre.

The concert is part of the centre’s Ceilidh in the Kitchen series, which already saw three performances in December.

Centre manager Sam Morrison said the initiative was born out of a need to do things differently in the wake of last year’s lockdown.

“Although the building is owned by Highland Council it is run by a voluntary board of directors who employ six full-time staff,” she said of the way the centre is managed.

“The lease is on a care and maintenance basis and therefore we are responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep costs of the building.

“All our income is generated by the business we take through our doors including usage by local groups and organisations, concerts, and corporate events.

Sam Morrison, manager of Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Picture: Gary Anthony
Sam Morrison, manager of Nairn Community and Arts Centre. Picture: Gary Anthony

“When lockdown happened last March we applied to numerous sources which we hoped might help out but we didn’t seem to fit the criteria for funding.”

She called the Scottish Government’s Venue Relief Funding “our saviour”.

“It gave us cash to cover wages and a budget to put on online performances which have been a fantastic success,” she said.

“The ceilidhs were an obvious choice because we have the Nairn Ceilidh Group performing here every summer for local people and tourists.”

The community centre teamed up with Inverness production company HCVF to record music sessions.

Tia McGraff’s concert will be broadcast at 8pm on Friday and Ms Morrison said the centre is already looking forward to other events in the future.

“The plan was by January to have socially distanced audiences of 70 in our 300-capacity auditorium, but that has had to be shelved due to the latest lockdown,” she said.

“However, we have been working with different bands and musicians and as soon as restrictions ease, we will be ready to go.

“We also work closely with Music Nairn and Jazz Nairn, two well-known local music groups and hopefully we will be able to put on some performances for their audiences over the next couple of months.”

All the recorded concerts and performances are still free to view on www.nairn

communitycentre.co.uk

Any donations will be gratefully received.


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