Shetland Arts is a visionary organisation looking towards the future with plans to create and develop a creative hub around Weisdale Mill. We have recently purchased the land and burn opposite the Mill and this will be the site for the new development – The Hatchery – which should be functionally and environmentally sustainable within five years. Funding will be sought from outside Shetland.
This will be a vibrant and exciting project with a newly built, environmentally sustainable gallery, cafe, retail space and education/community workshop area. The venue will have full disabled access not possible in the current gallery within the listed building of Weisdale Mill. Artists’ studios for those practicing in all disciplines, and workshops for those involved in the creative industries will help to nurture emergent talent and provide inspirational space for more established practitioners. Incubator units will encourage local graduates to bring their skills home and develop work opportunities. Short term rentals on workshops plus rentable artist accommodation will allow a ‘trial run’ to those considering and artistic life in the islands before making a final move. Again studios and living spaces will be environmentally sustainable – think grass roofs, sheep’s wool insulation, etc. A vibrant hub will encourage interaction between artists and creatives. Those with workshops and studios on site will meet and mix with artists from other parts of the islands who may find this venue both useful and inspirational. This eco-buildings will be simple and flexible; moveable interior walls to form a mixture of spaces that can be used for work and play. In the cafe you will be able to enjoy a business breakfast with clients, meet visiting practitioners, hatch projects or grab a bacon roll and catch up with the other tenants: you will feel part of the creative buzz. There will be 24 hour access, to the studio space, Broadband and WiFi. All the rentable spaces – long and short term – will be affordable. A micro hydro system will supply electricity and the extra power produced can be sold to the national grid. We are looking at an anaerobic digester, power points for electric cars among other ecological projects.
The cluster is proposed to mix tourism, culture and business, and to be a focus for creative practice in the community. The Hatchery will grow the sector, provide a number of jobs locally, and be of benefit to Shetland economically, educationally and socially while enhancing the image of our islands. We will link to local, national and international networks and bring artists and creative people to work with our own talent in a number of ways – residencies, teaching, workshops, collaborations and partnerships.
Shetland has much to offer both its local creative community and the many artists who visit and become inspired. The hub will allow for business, networking, meetings, collaboration: it will encourage cross fertilisation of ideas: makers will work alongside musicians, visiting film makers can set up a working base and use the knowledge and skills of local artists and designers – bringing stimulation and excitement to this creative zone. As the cluster develops we believe it will become a magnet for talent
The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry notes that ‘dividends from creative clusters can be enormous in terms of civic image, training and engagement in the economy as well as purely economic terms.’ However ‘creative clusters are not the same as other clusters, and common strategies will not work’. A cluster of creative enterprises needs much more than the standard vision of a business park next to a technology campus. A creative cluster includes non-profit enterprises, cultural institutions, gallery spaces, social meeting spaces, and individual artists’ studios. Creative clusters are places to live as well as to work, places where cultural products are consumed as well as made. They are open round the clock, for work and play. They feed on diversity and change and so thrive in busy settings; that have their own local distinctiveness; but are also connected to the world.’ Increased inter trading, joint marketing, support for arts’ business spin offs and being part of a group of like minded people are all advantages of a creative cluster, while the breaking of isolation is very important to all creatives who often thrive on discussion and debate.
The hub will be built on to develop an evening economy: offering food and events and a summer evening destination encouraging sustainable rural tourism. As well as professional use the space can be used by community arts organisations and partnerships with other organisations will be encouraged – such as our first partnership with the Shetland Angling Association.
Further possibilities: allotments and polytunnels for growing herbs and salads for the cafe; a chicken run to supply eggs, fishing from special fishing pegs around the Mill Pond, some suitable for disabled users. The entire hub will be family friendly – Saturday morning art classes, night classes, poetry readings, wildlife club, etc. Public transport is a vital audience development tool and will need addressing.
There will be consultation among the artistic and creative community, the local residents and the wider Shetland community who use Bonhoga socially and for education and tourism.. Ideas from the consultation will then be fed into the plan.
We will be delighted to hear your views, ideas and comments.
Contact us Shetland Arts by email at email@example.com or phone 01595 743843