Media release:

The Scottish Arts Council Capital Lottery Fund has brought a new cinema and music venue a giant step closer to reality by the award of £2.12 million today. The decision represents a vote of confidence in Shetland’s flagship project, Mareel, which would see a live music performance venue, a two screen cinema and a range of education and community facilities being established at the North Ness, next door to the Shetland Museum and Archive.

Shetland Arts Director Gwilym Gibbons said that the decision was indeed welcome, and he paid tribute to the work of SADA staff, the former Shetland Arts Trust which started this process in 1999, the multi-agency Project Management Team and the wider stakeholder group in getting to this point. “We have always had faith that this is an inspirational and worthwhile project and one that will be a real asset for Shetland. It is gratifying and hugely encouraging to us that this vision is shared by the Scottish Arts Council. There are still many challenges to overcome before we can open Mareel’s doors, but today’s decision has given us the boost that we need to meet those challenges head-on.”

The award for Mareel is just one of the ‘good news’ stories from the Scottish Arts Council Capital Lottery Fund today. Iain Munro, Co-Director of the Scottish Arts Council said “The Scottish Arts Council is delighted to invest Lottery funding in Mareel, which will be an exciting new contemporary addition to the regenerating waterfront in the North Ness of Lerwick. Music is a hugely engaging and important part of Shetland culture and Mareel will provide a purpose-built and long awaited focus for that, alongside cinema and a range of other arts and entertainment possibilities. It will also help support the development of the burgeoning creative industries in Shetland and make a significant contribution to the local economy. Mareel is therefore an important and welcome addition to the range of high quality cultural facilities available across Scotland, and its extensive technological capability will also ensure that it can reach out to the whole of Shetland and beyond.”

The award represents just one of the external funding applications that have been made by SADA and other decisions are currently pending. The Shetland Islands Council has earmarked £5.1 million towards the total cost of the £9.3 million building (including the development stage) of which £4.6 million remains in the Capital Plan. SIC Convenor Sandy Cluness was greatly encouraged by the news. “I am delighted to hear of this award, coming as it does at a crucial time for this project. The Council tasked the Project Team with finding external funding to support the SIC’s investment, and this is exactly the kind of news we were hoping for.”

Project Officer Kathy Hubbard said that the news had come at a significant point in Mareel’s development. “It’s taken years of hard work to get here, but this is the sort of encouragement we need to keep going forward. I’d certainly like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us and helped us get to this point – we still need you, and we still have a way to go, but it feels absolutely wonderful to have reached this vitally important milestone on the journey.”


Contact: Kathy Hubbard 01595 743843 / 0787 672 7059 Gwilym Gibbons 01595 743731

Notes to editors

The Scottish Arts Council is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) which was established by Royal Charter in 1994 and is also a Lottery distributor. The organisation serves the people of Scotland by fostering arts of excellence through investment, development, research and advocacy. The corporate aims are: to support artists to fulfil their creative and business potential; to increase participation in the arts; and to place the arts, culture and creativity at the heart of learning. We invest £60m each year, including £15 million of National Lottery funding. For more information visit: or contact Maggie Page, Communications Officer – Parliamentary, 0131 240 2468

This investment was approved by the Joint Board of Scottish Screen and Scottish Arts Council yesterday (Wednesday 26 March) and the grants follow on from initial ‘stage one’ grants which allowed the organisations to work up their proposals in detail. These are the final grants made from a single major funding round which combined funds from 2004/05, 05/06 and 06/07 to create a total funding pot of £16.75 million.