An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway is to open on the last Sunday of the month for
a trial period in order to test demand for seven day operations.
The new Stars Wars film - The Last Jedi - will be screened on the first pilot weekend
The Sunday movie is already sold out.
“Family arts activities” will also be on offer.
The bar or restaurant will be shut but hot drinks and snacks will be available.
Elly Fletcher, chief executive of An Lanntair, said the trial was a “research exercise.”
She added: “We are not at all going trying to go against local tradition or to upset
local people in any way.
“We are very much mindful and respectful of the strong tradition and history of Sabbath
observance in the Outer Hebrides.
“All we are doing with this exercise is finding out if there are people who would
also like to access the arts on Sundays.
“That’s very much part of our audience research process and also our equality, diversity
and inclusion work which is very important to An Lanntair.”
Rev James Maciver of Stornoway Free Church expressed his disappointment that local
churches were not consulted.
Mr Maciver said: “I am disappointed they did not feel they could discuss the matter
with us or get our point of view before actually taking the decision.”
He added: “We try to present a positive view of Sunday rather than be seen as being
perceived as being negative by saying you shouldn’t be doing this or that on a Sunday.
“We try to present an alternative by emphasising the spiritual side to human life
and to actually present the Gospel as something that meets that.”
He continued: “I’m not against people having the choice - everybody’s got the freedom
of choice - but what I am concerned to do to to present a positive view of the Lord’s
Day in order that people can benefit from it spiritually.”
The local branch of DayOne/LDOS said: “The general observance of the Lord's Day locally
is one of the things that makes Lewis and Harris culturally distinctive and attractive
today as it is a social feature found virtually no where else in the UK.
“Many islanders, including those who are not professing Christians or who don't go
to church, value this cultural distinctive and aspect of our island's heritage.
“Our view is that An Lanntair, with the local culture at the heart of its remit,
should be seen to preserve and promote, wherever possible, this cultural heritage
rather than undermine it in this way.
“The Lord's Day is a positive day which speaks of a new dawn and the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayer is that more and more people will come to discover,
or even rediscover, the spiritual and physical benefits associated with it.”
An Lanntair plans to open their doors from 1pm to 5pm “giving our audiences an alternative
time to come to the cinema and visit the visual art exhibitions in our galleries,”
said the facility.
In September An Lanntair directors agreed to “commit to identifying a way for a trial
to take place.”
It followed a review into the “existing operational challenges” in opening on Sundays.
At that time the arts centre pledged to undertake a “significant review of what it
means for opening on a Sunday.”
“Considerable support” had emerged through a limited consultation through interviews
with some “existing audience members, visitors and the wider community” in the summer