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Last week we received notification that our application to the Scottish Government Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund (PAVRF) has been successful and Lyth Arts Centre has been awarded £97,000, the full figure we requested. It is the figure we calculated which would enable us to remain solvent, avoid redundancies, and continue some form of creative output whilst we are closed up to 31 March 2021 (a date defined by the fund).
This fund was established to recognise that performing arts venues like LAC were among the first to close in response to Covid-19, and will be among the last to re-open as part of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 recovery. In receiving this funding, it also acknowledges the important role LAC plays in both the National and Highland arts and cultural sector.
In the face of the early implications of the pandemic, as a team we unanimously agreed that for LAC to survive and thrive in the future, that we would need to evolve and step-change as an organisation. Waiting to ‘return to normal’ was never an option for us. We have been recognised by national press for our pragmatic approach, for instance in The Scotsman.
This funding will enable a 6-month process to implement the process of re-imagining and re-invention that has been taking place behind the scenes. Whilst unable to host the wide variety of shows that we normally would, we’ve worked with professional local artists to do projects with 5 local care homes, a back-to-school project with Home Start Caithness, make a film in collaboration with Thurso Youth Club, make a zine for the First Minister, and distributed over 800+ copies of our lockdown activity pack, Caithness Through My Window. We may never have achieved these results in a normal year and we’re delighted to share the full suite of projects with you here.
This has just scratched the surface of projects we have wanted to do. Over the next six months, we hope to extend successful lockdown projects and start new ones.
These projects have offered both LAC and members of the community a way forwards in dark times. We know many of our regular visitors and audiences are missing live music, live theatre, live comedy and exhibitions. We are too, and we look forward to hosting them again when we can. We’re as optimistic as ever that when we are allowed to re-open, LAC will be in a stronger position than ever to do so.
This funding secures our short term future up to 31 March 2020. Like our funders and industry colleagues, we don’t know what the outlook from 1 April 2021 will be. Considering the seismic changes of the last six months, it is difficult to predict. We will remain agile, flexible and optimistic. Until then, keep your eyes and ears open for LAC projects happening out in your community over the next few months.
Charlotte Mountford & Tom Barnes