Many layers at An Lanntair arts hub

Main picture - The cast are busy rehearsing  at Lews Castle College.Below - Michaela Smith and her helpers organise the costumes for the production.
Main picture - The cast are busy rehearsing at Lews Castle College.Below - Michaela Smith and her helpers organise the costumes for the production.

You may generally just drop in for a cuppa, or lunch with friends, but there is much more to the An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway.

Last year the charity offered 6,000 creative learning opportunities to the people of the Islands.

And that ambition doesn’t stand still as An Lanntair hopes to increase this even more in future years.

The opportunities come in many artistic forms from dance workshops - currently ballet for all ages, and the fourth outing for hip-hop teacher Ashley Judd from the mainland, whose classes prove to be popular amongst young boys.

There are also theatre productions - this year’s summer school will be staging the musical Bugsy Malone, last year it was the ever-popular musical Joseph.

As well as craft classes such as weaving, there are also school programmes, working with local libraries and activities for groups like the Grianan centre.

The Luminate Festival is an area for concentration at An Lanntair, the festival takes place in October and showcases arts based projects and events to celebrate creativity, share stories, and to explore what ageing means to all of us.

But all ages are catered for by the busy Community and Education department at the centre, made up by Joe Mahoney (Acting Head of Education and Outreach), Jon Macleod (Education and Exhibitions Assistant) and Sandra Kennedy, a local artist who works with the Education and Outreach department on a freelance basis.

One of the most eye-catching projects recently installed is a mural on the front of the building, as part of the ‘Inside Out’ exhibition, and the wall will be used as a rotating exhibition space.

The current ’Inside-Out’ exhibition was created through workshops with young people from ’First Step’. They looked at the design of the building and the work of other urban artists and produced a piece that engaged with An Lanntair’s architecture.

With art activities and film clubs proving popular across the board the charity certainly lives up to its golden aim of ‘bringing the arts in all its different forms to the people of the Islands’. And the results of that work will soon be apparent for all to see as the musical Bugsy Malone is deep in rehearsal and working towards curtain up on August 11th.

Talking to director Dee Jones during rehearsals at Lews Castle College she described how it is all coming together: “The cast are working incredibly well. We are on day four of rehearsals and they have been acting the whole time, the singing is very strong with some lovely voices and there are four big dance numbers. The college has been great in helping us with rehearsal space.

“Bugsy is so incredibly complicated with lots of characters coming and we will be using the whole of the auditorium for the show. I think the show will be tremendous.”

This week rehearsals move on to the An Lanntair stage for the final tweaks to the performance with curtain up on August 11th and 12th at 3pm and 7.30pm. Snap up your tickets at the An Lanntair Box Offic on 01851 708480, and to find out more about the other creative opportunities log on to: