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Artyness columnist and writer Barbara Henderson is finding out about the Eden Court's CEO Rebecca Holt announced to take over from James Mackenzie-Blackman who leaves for Plymouth

By Barbara Henderson

Big news! Big news! Who is Rebecca Holt, Eden Court’s newly appointed chief executive?

James Mackenzie-Blackman is going to leave the Highlands at the end of the month. I’m sure you’d all want to join me in wishing him and his family well as he heads south again to take up his new role at Theatre Royal, Plymouth, the place where his own love of theatre began.

I have only met him in person once but have been so impressed with his ingenuity in steering Eden Court through the pandemic in the way he has. And, as a regular theatre- and filmgoer, I am naturally interested in the smiling young woman in the picture who is going to succeed him at the helm of such a crucial institution in our area.

Rebecca Holt. Picture: Miran Hadžić
Rebecca Holt. Picture: Miran Hadžić

Did I google Rebecca Holt the second I read of the appointment? Of course I did!

Did I follow her on Twitter in an instant? Yep! It’s @rebeccalholt for those of you who want to do the same.

It’s not just that I am a curious soul by nature – it matters!

The current executive director and deputy chief executive at Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in London will move north to join us here in the new year.

As someone who has also made a move from Inverness to London and then back to the Highlands myself, a good few years ago, I have a little insight into the contrast between the two. I am convinced that this can only be a good thing!

Perhaps surprisingly, there are several parallels between the organisation Rebecca Holt has worked for over the past few years and our own cherished Eden Court.

According to the London venue’s own website, “Battersea Arts Centre is a hub for everyone’s creativity, based in an iconic building with a radical history, the old Battersea Town Hall” and they seek to “support people to take creative risks to inspire change, locally, nationally and globally”.

Think of the history of our own iconic historic Bishop’s Palace and the remarkable ambition of previous teams at Eden Court which has brought top quality performances in the Highlands, while also championing community creativity through classes and grassroots initiatives. I sense more dynamism in the future, and I am glad of it.

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

Much smaller in scale, another change is afoot.

Two other writers have recently joined the church I attend, and the three of us have come up with a novel (terrible pun – apologies!) idea – the space adjacent to Inverness Baptist Church will open fortnightly for a Thursday morning ‘writers’ hub’, simply providing a space where any writers can work independently on their own projects, but alongside each other for mutual encouragement.

Simply grab your notebook or laptop, bring a coffee if you like, and head for ‘The Hub’ beside the church at 83 Castle Street. Open 9.30am-noon on November 25 and December 9. See you there and happy writing, wherever you are!

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