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Virus presents biggest challenge in history of top Highland venue; Eden Court boss insists: 'We'll be back'

By Staff Reporter

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James Mackenzie-Blackman is remaining positive despite Eden Court's closure.
James Mackenzie-Blackman is remaining positive despite Eden Court's closure.

Chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said the closure of Eden Court represents the biggest crisis in the theatre's history.

Staff’s jobs have been protected in a deal with Highland Council that will allow them to step into support roles there as the local authority also battles to deal with the implications of the virus outbreak.

Among other things, they will man a new helpline offering advice to those in need as well as pointing the way for volunteers looking to lend a hand in communities.

Mr Mackenzie-Blackman has spoken of his pride in the way they have stepped up but said there is obviously still sadness that the venue has had to close.

“I can’t tell you what a sad sight it is to see a building such as ours empty,” he said. “It’s not designed to be empty – it’s a very odd feeling – it’s a building that’s busy from 9am every single day, 363 days of the year.

“We were left with no choice though, shows just began to fall away and tours were cancelling over 24 hours left, right and centre.

“Eden Court is the heart of the city in many ways –audiences say that to me all the time.

“It’s one of the biggest buildings and it is just loved, absolutely loved, by people.”

Whether he will be able to rebook all the shows that had been planned is unknown.

“It’s a massive game of jigsaw,” he said.

“I’ve never worked in circumstances like this, where it feels as if so much is out of my control.

“I just want the general public to know we will be back and when we are – and here’s the thing – when we do reopen, we are really, really going to need people to come. It’s important people understand that 75 per cent of Eden Court’s entire income is made up of ticket sales and the money people spend in our bar and restaurant.”

You can stay in touch with Eden Court through social media and see the blog at www.eden-court.co.uk

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