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An Lanntair building in Stornoway

An Lanntair

Stornoway arts venue transforms its operations while connecting local makers to global markets.

An Lanntair building in Stornoway

More than just a building

An Lanntair is the principal multi-purpose arts venue in the Outer Hebrides and one of the area’s most popular visitor attractions.

As well as housing the only cinema on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, the not-for-profit enterprise offers gallery and exhibition spaces, meeting facilities, grants and mentoring support for local artists, educational programmes, community outreach, and a full year-round calendar of cultural events.

 

An Lanntair is not just a building. It’s hard to encapsulate the scale of the role we play in our community. Overall, our work as a charity promotes the arts and culture of the Outer Hebrides.
Elly Fletcher, Chief Executive, An Lanntair

The challenge: limited legacy systems

Prior to 2020, the team at An Lanntair had been working to increase the digital capability of the organisation. A comprehensive review of operations identified two primary areas for improvement.

The first of these was the need to address how file storage and servers were being used by the organisation. With a private server nearing capacity and inconsistent use of cloud solutions, An Lanntair needed a shared digital platform that would offer it increased efficiency, robust security and dependable file storage.  

The second opportunity identified in the review centred around the retail offering. With a physical shop in the building in Stornoway offering high quality goods from local artists, an online shop could provide local makers with a way to trade globally.

The opportunity: HIE funding

“We had known for a long time that we wanted to take the shop online,” explains Elly. “Our digital review identified two priority areas for us to work on and the solutions we needed, but we didn’t have the funding in place to go ahead.”

It was An Lanntair’s HIE account manager, Kathleen Stewart, who passed on news of the COVID-19 Restart and Recovery Digital Enablement Grant. “Kathleen takes a holistic approach to working with us,” explained Elly. “Whenever opportunities come up she’ll pass them on along with ideas of how they apply to us and how we might benefit.”

The solution: futureproof digital operations

With funding in place thanks to the HIE grant, An Lanntair was able to proceed with both projects identified in the digital review.

Working with a specialist contractor, An Lanntair has moved all its users and all internal operations from the old servers to the cloud-based Microsoft 365 solution. Now, secure, cloud based storage means everyone in the team can access shared files securely and easily, which became all the more valuable as remote working was quickly embedded due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Work is also underway on an e-commerce platform for the online shop. Due to launch in summer 2021, the contractors will build, integrate and launch a fully functioning online shop allowing local makers to reach customers all over the world.

The impact: flexible integrations

Elly and her team have already seen significant benefits from the switch to cloud-based servers.

“Moving to Microsoft 365 was a massive help as we adapted to working from home while feeling like we could still work efficiently and well together. We’ve been able to go paperless in our finance department, which is helpful from both an environmental and security perspective, and for the first time, we’ve been able to seamlessly integrate the trustees who sit on our charity board into our daily operations and communications, making it much easier for them to carry out their duties.”

An Lanntair will continue to benefit from the investment in the future, as will the many and diverse local communities it serves.

“Long term, we expect the shop to contribute to our bottom line, bringing income to us and to the makers themselves. The cloud migration funded by the grant will also allow the team to access files when they’re out working in the community. It will also support our wider digital strategy and programme of online events and content,” explains Elly, before noting that digital delivery aligns well with An Lanntair’s mission to “connect and inspire people in producing extraordinary creative programmes, uniquely rooted in the place and reflecting the arts and ideas of our time.

“As a team, we’re still receiving training and discovering new ways in which we can make the most of our new digital capabilities.” Elly added. “But it has been quite a process so far, and already, we’re more fleet of foot.”

Visit the An Lanntair website here

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