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Charity-run Highland theatre announces widespread redundancies

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The Eden Court in Inverness has said it is facing “significant financial challenges”.

A charity-run theatre in Inverness has made 10% of its staff redundant and reduced opening hours in a bid to reduce costs.

Bosses at the Eden Court theatre in the Highland city have said the organisation is facing “significant financial challenges”, with the impact of inflation and the “slow return” of audiences after the pandemic impacting their efforts to keep the site open. 

Bosses confirmed that the charity would be “losing in the region of 10% of staff from the 143-strong workforce” following a compulsory redundancy process, with staff costs accounting for half of its overall spending. 

From January, the theatre will now also open an hour later between Wednesday and Sunday, and close early on it’s “traditionally quieter days” of Monday and Tuesday.

The theatre and cinema, which is a registered charity, receives funding from Creative Scotland and the Highland Council, and attracts an audience of more than 300,000 people annually.

Don Robertson, chair of Eden Court’s Board of Directors, said: “Eden Court faces enormous financial challenges due to significantly increased operating costs and lower ticket sales revenues. This is a common issue across the arts sector and has unfortunately resulted in the closure of some key Scottish venues.

“Eden Court trustees have approved a decisive plan of action to avoid us incurring a financial deficit which would have threatened the long term sustainability of the charity. Through these actions and with the continued support of our audiences, staff and funders we believe that we can secure the future of this vital and highly valued Highland asset.”

Bosses at Eden Court said the changes would allow for the theatre to continue as a community space, including opening as a “warm space” during the cost of living crisis and reducing some ticket costs

Rebecca Holt, chief executive of Eden Court, said: “Eden Court, along with many others in the UK theatre sector, is facing significant financial challenges.

“In order to protect Eden Court to best serve artists, audiences and our community into the future and to ensure its financial stability, we have carried out a detailed financial modelling process looking at every area of the organisation, which regrettably has included staff roles. 

“The team here at Eden Court is incredibly creative, kind and hard working. Whilst we’ve been able to preserve the majority of jobs, any redundancy is painful and my sincere thanks and respect goes to all the team for their grace and understanding in this difficult time.

“We are proud of the vital role that Eden Court played for so many through the pandemic, operating as a humanitarian aid centre, and we once again want to ensure  that we can be a place of solace, relief and escapism during this crisis. Not just for audiences but for artists too. 

“We hope that the initiatives we have announced today will keep our building bustling and allow a little relief for as many as possible this winter.”