The funds will also be used to help the Eastgate team to develop the new skills needed to increase the venue’s adaptability and build its resilience to cope with continued uncertainties throughout the year ahead.

Like every other organisation involved in arts or hospitality, the Eastgate has had to work hard to survive lockdown so far and then begin to plan the way ahead.  An Open Doors campaign was launched on the Just Giving website in May, and this was immediately supported by the Friends of the Eastgate organisation who highlighted the appeal in their #eastgateathome online arts channel with an eclectic series of home-made videos celebrating the creativity and imagination of the local community.  Thanks to donations big and small from the Friends along with many other individuals and organisations including the continued support of Live Borders, the Eastgate café was able to re-open on 15th July with a small complement of staff supported by a much larger group of masked and aproned volunteers.

Ron Inglis, Chair of the Eastgate Board of Directors said:

“The Board and staff of the theatre have been hugely impressed by the level of support received from the local community and friends from much further afield.  This is especially gratifying because it comes on the back of the intense fundraising efforts of 2019 to develop the building and upgrade the auditorium.  The launch of this year’s fundraising campaign by the Friends of the Eastgate allowed management and planning to continue during closure, building the momentum that has made it possible to open the café, begin classes and access this vital Creative Scotland grant.  All of this has made a significant and very welcome contribution to the work of the theatre during this very difficult time when physical distancing continues to have a major impact on potential earnings.”

The re-introduction of creative classes for adults and children began in September with Saturday morning classes by Fiona Henderson School of Dance, swiftly followed by Dance Pointe Academy’s Friday afternoon classes.  Adult dance classes resume in early October, along with the much loved pre-school drama class Let’s Pretend, Rainbow Yoga for children, and Medieval Combat with spear, sword and shield.

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Meanwhile plans are underway to launch a rich mix of films and event cinema later in October which will offer daytime as well as evening screenings, and on weekdays as well as at the weekend.  Live events will be added once theatres are allowed to open again, and the Creative Scotland grant will provide exciting new opportunities for the Eastgate to create additional digital content that will complement theatre performances with preview features and post-show interviews.

Caroline Adam, General Manager of the Eastgate Theatre added:

Within days of the Eastgate going into lockdown in March, it was clear that the whole community had a real determination to make sure that the theatre doors would open again.   Over the last few months this has been evidenced by the tremendous support provided by Directors, Friends, arts organisations and individuals – from advice and encouragement to financial contributions.  This, combined with the flexibility and patience of the staff team, the willing assistance of many volunteers, and the enthusiasm of the artistic community to get back to work at the Eastgate, has guaranteed the momentum we need to build events and audiences over the months ahead.  Now with the major bonus of grant support from Creative Scotland, we’re looking forward to developing a rich programme of activities, films and live events that will really light up the winter months for everyone.