The Highlands’ largest arts venue has postponed one of its most popular events due to public health concerns.
Ticket sales from pantomimes at Inverness’ Eden Court represent a third of the venue’s annual income.
But bosses said the potential risk of Covid-19 to the performers, staff and audiences had forced them to postpone this year’s panto, Cinderella.
The move will lose Eden Court £350,000 in revenue and affects the jobs of 14 performers.
The venue’s pantomime last year, Beauty and the Beast, drew a record total audience of 36,000 people over 51 performances.
Cinderella has been postponed until next year.
‘Face the reality’
Eden Court’s chief executive James Mackenzie-Blackman said: “The importance of this decision has weighed heavily on my shoulders for many months.
“I have wanted to wait as long as possible before deciding but we can now not delay any further and have to face the reality that there are too many factors that make the delivery of pantomime impossible.”
Panto director and co-writer Steven Wren said the postponement affected dozens of people, including temporary staff taken on to help during the busy 14 days of performances over the festive period.
He said: “The ripples of this go on and on and on. It’s not only the theatre, but the restaurants round and about and the transport companies that bus the school parties. When you start to add it up the effect is huge.”
Mr Wren said when the panto was performed it would be “spectacular”.
Mr Mackenzie-Blackman added: “Cinderella will go to the ball, but it won’t be until Christmas 2021.”