Flying in the face of the traditional ‘quiet’ Sunday in the Islands An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway controversially conducted a pilot Sunday opening of the centre once a month from January to March.
Each event included one cinema screening, access to the arts exhibitions and informal arts activities for children and families.
The aim of these trial events was to explore whether audiences would like to see the arts centre open on Sundays, to further An Lanntair’s audience research into this question.
An Lanntair’s board has now reviewed the results of these trial events, examining the numbers of audiences and ticket sales, and the impact on staff, audiences and the organisation as a whole.
In a statement put out this morning (Thursday) the arts centre revealed: “Each of the three Sunday cinema screenings was very well attended, demonstrating that there is strong demand for a cinema offer on Sundays.
“The arts activities for children and families were popular too.
“The trial has evidenced that audiences would like to see the arts centre open on Sundays.
“Feedback from the trial has shown that opening the arts centre as an inclusive and welcoming community space on Sundays has the potential to contribute to the health and well-being of people across our community.”
The statement continued: “The feedback we have received during the trial has confirmed that, if we were to open on Sundays, people would like to see our whole building, including the café bar, open and offering high quality food and drink alongside our arts programme.
“We would like to be able to service this demand to the highest quality, however we are not quite ready operationally to open the doors on Sundays at the moment.
“We will work to resolve this in the future, and intend to start Sunday opening as soon as operationally possible.
“We have made a firm commitment to all of our staff that we will not expect anyone to work on Sundays if they do not want to.
“It is important to be clear that An Lanntair exists to serve the entire community, and can serve different parts of it in different ways.
“Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion means that we are continuously seeking new ways to support people to access our programme, services and activities.”
There have been some protests about the opening of the arts centre on Sundays over recent months, with social media taking the lead, in showcasing the arguments between different viewpoints.
On January 28th when the centre opened on Sunday for the first time two protestors stood outside the facility with placards to make their views against the centre opening on Sundays clear.
One of those was Rev. David Fraser of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) who suggested at the time the reason the facility was so busy on the day was due to ‘resistance and rebellion’ to God’s mandate rather than any genuine desire to use the facility.
He continued: “Quite a lot just turn out on principle as they want to defy the majority Christian view. I was disappointed to see more thatn I thought there.”