Hundreds of islanders in Lewis and Harris have signed a petition opposing the Sunday
opening of An Lanntair arts centre.
The venue recently announced it intends to operate on all days of the week.
An Lanntair said the results from a trial run showed high ticket sales and positive
audience feedback, indicating demand to make Sunday opening a permanent fixture.
The move angers many traditionalists - including many who are not church members
- who point out the vast majority of commercial premises in the town are closed on
Sundays, reflecting the historic local island values of observing the Sabbath.
Now a wave of grass roots criticism from within the community has been followed by
the launch of a petition by the local branch of the Lord’s Day Observance Society,
also known as Day One.
The petition - titled Community Statement is accessible online at the www.38degrees.org.uk
website while hard copies are circulating around the island.
The community statement reads: “As a resident in this island community I am disappointed
that An Lanntair chose to trial Sunday opening.
“I hope that this trial does not result in any permanent Sunday opening. It is my
sincere view that An Lanntair has not well represented our local community in this
“I have no desire to see any further erosion of our heritage and unique culture as
regards a peaceful Sunday.”
A Day One spokesman explained why the petition was launched: “The proposed Sunday
operations at An Lanntair is a significant issue for the community.
“It is clear that many people from different cultures, backgrounds and religious
convictions feel strongly about this issue.
“Until now, there hasn't been a formal means by which the community - many of whom
support An Lanntair and who want to see it succeed - can make collective representation
and the community statement is a vehicle for this.
“We certainly believe that many in our island will align with the statement and will
want to sign it and thus express in a tangible way their support for maintaining
a peaceful Sunday in our island community.”
Blockbuster film Star Wars headlined the first of three events to test the water.
All 183 seats for the screening sold out though critics point out the worldwide popularity
of the epic space movie attracts high audience numbers everywhere across the globe.
Protesters holding placards stood outside the premises at each trial opening.
Many staff members are not keen on working on Sundays which is believed to be a factor
in the venue’s inability to commence regular Sunday openings immediately.
The board pledged staff are not expect to work on Sundays if they do not want to.
Hundreds sign petition against An Lanntair Sunday opening