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At a full Board Meeting this week Shetland Arts unanimously elected Danus Skene as its new chairperson and Irvine Tait as the Vice Chair of the organisation. The appointment of Mr Skene comes after the resignation of long- serving Trustee and Chairperson, Jim Johnston, who recently left Shetland to take up an appointment to advise the Malaysian Government on education reform. At the meeting the Board expressed its warm thanks to Mr Johnston for his long-standing commitment to Shetland Arts.

After accepting the role of Chairperson, Mr Skene, said: “The past year has been a very challenging period for the Board. As well as continuing to enhance the high level of arts development achieved over the past seven years, we have in partnership with others overseen Mareel's progress from a construction site through to practical completion. Despite opening Mareel with minimal available funds, we have also delivered an extensive programme of films, events and educational activity. Mareel is already a major community asset, with an estimated 75,000 visits so far, including people of all age groups and from every part of Shetland”.

Shetland Arts has learned much in recent months about what works well and where improvements can be made. We will welcome Holly Burford to our team next Monday (25 February) as our new Head of Operations, joining us from London's South Bank Centre. Holly's first priority will be to drive through a series of changes and improvements informed by the comprehensive customer feedback received so far. A key focus will be Mareel's Cafe Bar. Gwilym Gibbons, Director of Shetland Arts, added: “We are fortunate that the Shetland community has developed a real sense of ownership of Mareel and a strong desire to see the venue succeed. When things aren't right, our customers are not afraid to let us know.

All of us at Mareel welcome thesecomments because they help us to be the best we can. I welcome the opportunity over the coming months to shift my focus from issues associated with the construction of Mareel to ensuring that Mareel meets the expectations of our customers, earns money and continues to grow audiences well beyond all projections.”

Mr Skene concluded by saying: “The Board is committed to minimising its dependence on Shetland's public funds and maximising its earned income. We are proud that, despite a significant reduction in local grant funding over the past 5 years, we have been able to double turnover. Mareel is the cornerstone of our social enterprise activity.”

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