HIE media release: "Shetland centre for creative excellence receives HIE funding"

Plans for the proposed centre of excellence for international creativity in Shetland have moved closer following a major investment of £965,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Mareel is due to open in 2010 as a creative industries centre with a multi-purpose music, cinema, arts and education facility in Lerwick. Its development has been led by the Shetland Arts Development Agency (SADA) which was set up to encourage, support and develop activities in the creative industries.

The venue will provide opportunities for local musicians, filmmakers, dancers and other arts practitioners to develop their skills, as well as provide similar opportunities for sound, lighting and recording engineers and those with an interest in digital media.

As part of the developing cultural quarter in Lerwick where the new museum and archives, digital media businesses, architects and artists currently reside, Mareel will strengthen what is becoming an internationally competitive cluster of businesses built on innovation and creative talent. The venue will be available for use by businesses, community groups and for the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute. Mareel will be an attraction for tourists as well as helping to promote arts and culture of the Highlands and Islands to the wider world.

An Economic Impact Study on Mareel was commissioned by HIE in April which highlighted that 52 full time jobs could be created. It found that the project would have positive effects on population, retention of young people and raising the profile of Shetland and the Highlands and Islands internationally in arts provision, building links with other countries.

Shetland is already renowned for music development and can be further nurtured to develop creativity within Mareel including music and sound engineering courses through UHI Millennium Institute. Other features of Mareel will include a multi media production suite for film, TV, web design and digital arts.

It is proposed that the venue will act as a hub from which outreach services can be offered to the most rural Shetland communities, bringing the cinema and audience development to remote islands.

Ann Black, HIE area manager based in Shetland, said: "The creative industries are one of the world's fastest growing sectors and increasingly important to the Highlands and Islands. Mareel will represent a facility for the Highlands and Islands to symbolise the unique culture of Shetland and we very much look forward to the development of the creative industries centre on our doorstep."

Katrina Wiseman, head of transformational projects at HIE Shetland area office said: "HIE is really pleased to have made a significant contribution to Mareel which is a hugely important project for Shetland, both culturally and economically. We have a vibrant community of creative people here in Shetland, and they all have the potential to achieve further wealth for the islands through high quality jobs in a world class creative industries venue in a rural area."

Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts Development Agency said: "Shetland Arts is proud to have HIE as a key partner in this project along side Shetland Islands Council and Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund. Its shows a commitment to a new and important sector for Shetland that is the creative industries and an acknowledgement of the creative and cultural assets that Shetland has to draw upon".

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