Eden Court Theatre & The Cairngorm Group
Education & Learning | Equality, diversity & inclusion | Older people | Young people
Can investing in the arts reach new audiences? Oh yes it can!
Eden Court in Inverness is Scotland’s largest combined arts organisation with a building complex that includes two theatres, two cinemas and three art galleries. In addition, an outreach programme takes the performing arts right across the Highlands. The Christmas pantomime is the biggest event in Eden Court’s calendar and for many people it’s not only a festive family tradition, it’s often a child’s first experience of live theatre too.
As the 2018 pantomime, Snow White, was a co-production between Eden Court and Imagine Theatre Company, it was one of the few shows for which Eden Court could seek sponsorship. Sponsorship income and CBFS match funding were vital to help cover the costs of this traditional full-scale production with the income generated from ticket sales then used to support the wider Eden Court programme, as well as covering the costs of the show. Snow White was a huge success, attracting the biggest audience in more than a decade and allowing arts organisation and business sponsor alike to raise their profile in the region.
With a valuable and imaginative package of benefits on offer, Eden Court approached The Cairngorm Group, an Inverness-based, family-owned manufacturing business with customers all over the Highlands. As a local business, Cairngorm were attracted by the prospect of raising their profile with a large Highland audience, not currently being reached by their existing football sponsorship, and also by the positive associations with a family show, traditionally packed with playful local references.
Negotiations on the level of sponsorship were made easier by the opportunity to secure CBFS match funding and the extra benefits and credentials this would bring. Eden Court were able to offer an additional 50 tickets for Snow White to Cairngorm staff and also involved them in making a promotional video to run on the firescreen during the interval, helping to cement the relationship between the business and the arts organisation and also increase the profile of Cairngorm as the sponsor. Ultimately, around 150 Cairngorm staff came to see the show with their families and were treated to preshow hospitality.
Nearly 38,000 people came to Snow White, the biggest audience in the last decade, and it attracted 45 primary schools from all over the Highlands as well as other younger interest groups including Brownies, Cubs and Scouts, the Boys Brigade and various youth clubs. The broad appeal of the pantomime meant that in addition to young audiences, it was also a popular choice for office outings and elderly care home residents too.
Eden Court ran a competition for primary schools, which was also sponsored by Cairngorm, with a Santa sack of craft supplies worth £100 presented to the winning class, on stage, by one of the Group’s directors, along with Snow White and the Prince.
Although David Dowling, MD of The Cairngorm Group had never attended a pantomime before, the collaboration on Snow White was extremely effective and the show’s director worked references to Cairngorm into the script in witty and memorable ways. Cairngorm also supplied and fitted glass in a large freestanding mirror, made by a young drama and film-making student at Eden Court, which was used for the video and displayed in the foyer for the run of Snow White.