An Lanntair Case Study

By @excalibur 2 years ago
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An Lanntair building. John Maher

An Lanntair is the largest multi arts venue in the Outer Hebrides. We are at one and the same time a contemporary art gallery, a theatre, a cinema, a concert hall, a platform for poetry, literature, and music, a studio, an education space – every part of our building is utilised to showcase the arts in multiple forms.

How are you funded: 

Creative Scotland remain our main source of regular funding, with an annual grant also provided by the local authority, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar. Individual applications are made for specific projects from a variety of sources.

Film Programme:


As our auditorium is a multi purpose space we are not a full time cinema, but we try to ensure regular weekly film screenings. Although the bulk of our programme is mainstream, we include specific nights for foreign language and documentaries. We’ve received an award from the Equipment Fund of the BFI which will enable us to develop a smaller, ‘pop-up’-style cinema space. This will be used to screen experimental and art films as well as short films and to host more unusual film events.

Most successful cinema activity and why?

Our cinema is most popular with families, and our Saturday matinees are a staple part of our film programme. However there is also notable interest in archive or locally relevant films, and indeed we opened the cinema in 2005 with a film shot on the Isle of Harris, “The Rocket Post”, obtaining the title before its general release. In addition the cinema facility offers an appropriate venue for advance screenings of titles such as the Gaelic feature film “Seachd”. In 2010 we were selected to host the Celtic Media Festival, which included talks by Peter Mullen and Tilda Swinton.

And how you dealt with the most challenging?

Probably the greatest challenge we faced was funding the changeover of our  cinema system from 35mm to digital, but in the day to day, adverse weather conditions can disrupt the delivery of films or force us to cancel titles due to having to close the premises.  We are of course lucky to have a very understanding audience here who are sympathetic to the issues that arise from bad weather and we always endeavor to screen the title at a later date.

How do you market your film programme/venue?

Our website is central to our marketing and communication with our customers. We recently relaunched and our cinema marketing now includes a monthly film blog, and a weekly newsletter that goes out to over 2500 people each Wednesday. We also use social media with Facebook being key to our local audiences. Print materials include press advertising and a monthly film leaflet that is our most popular item with customers.

What audience development activity are you currently doing?

We are developing a second cinema space which we hope is going to afford us a number of opportunities to further develop our audience. These will include improving upon the viewing experience of our current young persons’ film club, as well as using the space for an adults’ film club, ‘silver screenings’ for older audiences and carers’ and baby screenings.

We have also begun hosting a series of events called Party at the Pictures, at which we screen a film followed by a club night (the first of these, for example, was a screening of Arcade Fire: The Reflektor Tapes, teamed with an indie disco). These are aimed at attracting a younger audience to An Lanntair in general and to the cinema in particular.


In terms of developing the tastes of our audience, we have been showing double bills in which a mainstream film is teamed with a smaller independent film. Buying a ticket for both results in a discount which we hope will encourage audiences to take a chance on the lesser-known film.

Any tips to pass on?

Listen to your audience. If there is a demand for a specific title then react to it, but also ensure that you introduce them to new experiences.

And your favourite film/director is:

One of the best screenings we’ve had here recently was Slow West- made all the more memorable for director John Maclean’s presence and Q&A following the film.

Where can we find out what films you’re showing:

Take a look at our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @anlanntair

Where can we go for further information: 


General Contact Details: 

Alex Macdonald (Head of Performing Arts and Cinema) 

Or  HYPERLINK “” (Programme Assistant)

An Lanntair, Kenneth Street, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS1 2DS, 01851703307

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