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Media release:

On a cold, grey, windy night an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the North Ness, Lerwick to see the first turf dug out on the site of Mareel, Shetland Arts’ long awaited Cinema, Music and Education Venue which will be up and running early in 2011.

At 6.30 pm, on Wednesday 25 May, to the strains of Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’, Sandy Cluness, Shetland Islands Council Convener, donned a hard hat and climbed aboard a bright yellow digger to break the first ground.  The building phase of the £12 million venue was under way.  Mr. Cluness who has always been a staunch supporter of Mareel said it is‘one of the most exciting projects we’ve seen in Shetland for a very long time.’

Local construction firm DITT Construction Ltd has been awarded the contract and representatives of the company were on site to join in the celebrations.  The building has been designed by Gareth Hoskins Architects and funding has come from Shetland Islands Council, European Regional Development Fund, The Scottish Arts Council Capital Lottery Fund, Shetland Development Trust, Highland Islands Enterprise and the Gannochy Trust.

The crowd then moved along the waterfront to the Shetland Museum and Archives where Shetland Arts Director, Gwilym Gibbons, thanked everyone for their support in getting Mareel to this stage.  In particular he mentioned his colleague, Kathy Hubbard, Arts Development Manager with Shetland Arts, who was instrumental in raising funding.  Indeed, Kathy told of the very first meeting when the possibility of such a venue was only a dream.  A party atmosphere took over, refreshments were served, and music was provided by young local band, Brack da Brod, well known performers Sheila Henderson and Brian Nicholson

Thus begins the next stage of Mareel.  A webcam is sited so that you can watch the progress of the building on www.shetlandarts.org

For more information call: Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts on 01595 743843 Peter Tait, Director DITT Construction Ltd on 01595 692733

Note to editors:

The funding package secured by Shetland Arts Development Agency to design and build Mareel consists of contributions from the following partners: Shetland Islands Council   £5.19m European Regional Development Fund  £2.82m Scottish Arts Council Capital Lottery Fund £2.12m Shetland Development Trust   £0.965m Highland Islands Enterprise   £0.965m Gannochy Trust     £0.050m

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