Venue Profile: Craigmonie Centre

8 Aug 2004 in Highland

Craigmonie Centre

Location: Glen Urquhart High School, Drumnadrochit, Inverness-shire
Capacity: 200
Programme: the arts, cinema, concerts, events, exhibitions, workshops, meetings, conferences and training

Centre Co-ordinator’s Statement

Just over a year and a half old, The Craigmonie Centre is named after Craigmonie Hill that overlooks the site, which is thought to once have been the site of a Pictish Hill Fort and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the area around Loch Ness and beyond.

The name was chosen by the local community for the complex that includes Glen Urquhart High School and all the additional community facilities. The Craigmonie Centre is part of a new and developing network of quality arts venues within community facilities which currently include Ullapool High School, Fortrose Academy and Ardnamurchan High School.

I work with and for the community led Craigmonie Centre Management Committee and The Highland Council as the Centre Co-ordinator on deciding how the centre is run and developed. It’s an exciting partnership that shows there are few limitations on what can be achieved by the local communities through participation.

Community resolve for the establishment of the Craigmonie Centre – Glen Urquhart High School resulted in the provision of these tremendous facilities for both the school and the communities it serves ….and beyond!. They include:

Theatre / Arts / Music Venue: Seating up to 200 on retractable racked seating. The theatre is complete with stage, lighting and curtains, PA system and a high resolution LCD projector with large cinema screen and surround sound. 

We can also boast a Café and catering facilities, raised Gallery area, Courtyard, Community Library, Adult Learning Centre and numerous Meeting rooms which can accommodate 10 to 80 people. The building has a comprehensive ICT infrastructure, including Video Conferencing facilities.

In addition we have an all weather outdoor floodlit pitch, Games Hall and Fitness Suite with access to showers and changing facilities and Glen Urquhart Child Care Centre provide pre-school, nursery & Out Of School care within the building.

The ethos of the Craigmonie Centre is not only to be a focal point for the educational and recreational needs of the local community, but also to offer an exciting, unique and professional venue for the arts, concerts, events, exhibitions, workshops, meetings, conferences and training for all. Its all about accessibility and choice. I love working here!

Fran Davidson

Fran comes up with the answers to the usual questions.

AJ: When was the venue established?

FD: The Craigmonie Centre & Glen Urquhart High School was officially opened on the 11th November 2002.

AJ: What famous names have taken to the stage?

FD: Apart from the local stars who have taken the stage in school and community productions, the Craigmonie Centre has hosted everything from one man touring puppet theatres through to the Highland Youth Orchestra, Masa Jokima, Tango Siempre, the excellent Road Runner Theatre production of ‘The Woman who Cooked Her Husband’, workshops by art:tm, and a screening of a short film with accompanying talk by Donald Coutts – director of ‘American Cousins’ – as part of ‘CinemA82’, the centre’s film club programme.

This year is the first ever DRUMBEAT, a summer season that features what has been described as a ‘mouth-watering’ line up of concerts, plays, workshops, exhibitions and events including Marsada from Indonesia on their debut tour (Aug 4th );  Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham (Sold Out); MacUmba, an eclectic fusion of pipes and samba which as a half-Brazilian Scot I can confirm is a winning combination! (Aug 7th); An Avel day of Breton Culture (Aug 11th); the fantastic McCulloch Morran & Duff (Aug 13th); and many, many more – don’t miss it! [no big advertising pitch there, then – ed.]

AJ: Does the venue have a ghost?

FD: Only of ghostly memories – the ‘temporary’ Portocabins that helped house pupils alongside the old Victorian High School from the mid 1950’s until they moved to this new PPP funded facility nearly half a century later! The less said about that the better!

AJ: What are your big ideas for the future of the venue?

FD: Making the Craigmonie Centre synonymous with quality, diverse and accessible programming, events, arts, leisure and community education… well as making DRUMBEAT an annual must-see fixture on the festival calendar.

AJ: What was your worst disaster as director?

FD: There are no such things as disasters, only learning experiences…..

AJ: And what was your biggest triumph?

FD: Figuring out how to deal with the odd disaster! :-)

AJ: If you could have any artist in the world for a one-off special, who would it be, and why?

FD: As the Spectrum Centre already has Billy Connelly on their wish list, I’d ask Billy to send over his mates Whoopi Goldberg & Robin Williams who – with the help of a medium – would compare a mad stellar cabaret of stars of the past, present and future featuring the cast of the Goon Show, Yehudi Menuhin, Aretha Franklin, Shooglenifty, Bill Bailey, Jackie Chan (pre-Hollywood, of course), June Brown, Kenneth MacKellar, Gilberto Gil, Jimmy Nail (for Phyllis!), the Peatbog Faeries, James Brown, Bremner Bird and Fortune, the Atomic Floozies and Lochann. Naturally, Nessie would sell the ice creams at intermission.… (Well, you did say I could have anyone – by the way, this is why there is a management committee to occasionally keep my wilder flights of fancy in check.)

AJ: Why should people look forward to visiting your venue?

FD: A state of the art venue set in a beautiful location with a warm welcome and a great choice of events only 14 miles from Inverness! What more could you ask for?

© HI~Arts, 2004