Magic of Moffat may spell salvation for Easgate

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it’s been a difficult year for the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles with the recession (for that is what it is) hitting audience numbers and cafe customers, and forcing the flagship arts venue to up its prices and tighten cost controls with forensic zeal.

Yet still, this visionary project gives pleasure and cultural sustenance to nigh on 20,000 customers a year and without it, the Borders would undoubtedly be a poorer place.

In the context of a near £300million annual spend, the £90,000 which Scottish Borders Council confers in subsidy seems insignificant and can certainly be filed under the category of money well spent.

While there is a strong case for increasing that support as the theatre treads the fine line between raising revenue and pricing out audiences, we know that is not going to happen as long as council staff endure a pay freeze and more and more essential services are entrusted to the private sector.

But against a backcloth of uncertainty emerges an optimistic figure in the shape of Alistair Moffat, who, as revealed this week, is the new chairman of the Eastgate board of directors.

Ubiquitous in these columns for turning a bijou book festival into an event of international renown in just seven years, he has the reputation for getting things done.

He writes books, gets television companies to turn them into series and has a knack of getting his celebrity acquaintances to do his bidding.

If, as we suspect, he has an address book to die for, it’s more likely to be bums on seats than taxpayers’ money that will assure a rosy future for the Eastgate.