Mareel wants help from ‘friends’

Shetland Arts is asking people to pay up to £500 a year through a new membership scheme – but its chairman says it is not “scrabbling about for money”.

Mareel’s Friends’ Scheme is a three-tier membership with prices ranging from £25 to £500 per annum.

For £25 punters can become a “friend” of Mareel – entitling them to a 10 per cent discount on popcorn, a behind the scenes quarterly newsletter and chances to win prizes.

For £250 people can be a “supporter” which entitles them to the friend benefits plus priority bookings for concerts in the main auditorium and their name on a supporters’ and patrons’ wall.

For another £250 customers are entitled to free hire of the green room – a rehearsal space – and invitations to exclusive events. They are known as “patrons”.

Money invested will be used to fund festivals, cinema screenings, exhibitions, events and wider arts development.
Shetland Arts chairman Danus Skene said it was the time to “broaden support”.

He said Shetland Arts was a social enterprise and a charity and while the scheme would help to raise funds, it was not “mega bucks” but “significant”.

Friends of Mareel is part of a “normalisation process”, said Mr Skene and following the difficulties in establishing the building, it was part of creating “a community around Shetland Arts”.

“Now we are through the woods we are now planning and looking ahead, trying to normalise how
we run things and organise our networks.”

Shetland Arts marketing officer Lisa Ward said the scheme had always been planned for Mareel and such membership schemes for theatres and other venues were standard in other areas. At the end of last year, it was felt Mareel had reached a point where it could offer such benefits, she said.

“Lots of people have been asking the whole time we have been up and running how they can help to support us. We have had a lot of requests for the friends scheme.”

Ms Ward added there has been a mixture in the uptake with, “friends” being more of the general public and supporters and patrons being “big vocal supporters” of the venue.

So far the scheme has been popular, said Ms Ward, although she said she did not expect those being able to pay £500 a year amounting to a huge pool of people.

She said the membership scheme did not make the venue elitist and it gave the community the chance to support Mareel as an asset.

Information about the scheme is on Mareel’s website and at the front desk of the venue. Ms Ward said they would be making more of a push with the scheme after a low-key start – to ensure it was operating properly.

She said she was hoping more people would get involved but was not able to comment on how many people have signed up so far.

Since the opening of Mareel there had been an ongoing disagreement between the arts agency and construction firm DITT. In November the dispute came to an end, thanks to an out of court settlement.

The battle between the two organisations followed delays in completing the £13.5 million cinema and arts venue. The settlement brought a stop to the threat of costly legal action at the Court of Session.

Mareel opened £1.5 million over budget in August 2012 – following an 18-month delay.

Last year Shetland Islands Council agreed a complicated £1.1 million lease with the arts agency. But SIC politicians made it clear they met their obligations to Mareel and would not give the organisation additional funding in relation to the building.

The Shetland Charitable Trust, which offers financial support to Shetland Arts, also said it would not provide extra funds. Shetland Arts is looking to sell the Kergord hatchery, which it owns, in order to bolster its cash reserves.

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60 comments

  1. Colin Hunter

    Have I gone to sleep and woken up on first April? Please tell me this is a joke!

  2. Lindsay Wiseman

    10% discount on popcorn!!!!! You must be joking – only have to walk into the foyer & the smell of the popcorn just about knocks you out.

  3. Chris Mackie

    A good idea – most high quality arts venues do this, and enlightened people see it as a way of supporting them. Mareel is an amazing facility and we should be thankful there were people with the vision and determination to see it through, despite the small minded prejudice they faced.

    • fraser cluness

      what level are you going to buy?

  4. alma isbister

    Its a joke!! i dont suppose many people will find it funny though,especially when council cuts had to be made for this white elephant.

  5. Malcolm Henry Johnson

    I have just finished re-decorating my council house in Russell Crescent and the sitting room now has a ceiling mounted projector and full surround sound. I have to admit I got a little bit carried away with the project and am struggling to pay for all the kit I bought so if anyone out there would like to pay me £500 each year I will let you come around to my house every Saturday to watch classic war movies and I will scratch your name on my front door with a rusty nail.

  6. iantinkler

    Not an April fool Colin, fantasy reality perhaps. Just think all those arties whom took exception about my and your earlier observations and comments about Mareel, now have a chance to up front their own money to keep the Great White Elephant afloat. Make a change from squandering Shetlanders scarce funds. Come on Shetland Arts people, assorted sycophants and arty types, £500 pounds each please, put your money where your mouths are and have the courage (balls) to do it publically. This could be fun!!

  7. Jim Leask

    Why does this seem like a joke to you Colin? Plenty of institutions (charities, galleries, theatre’s, trusts, museum’s and a host of other places that are open for the public) up and down the length of the country seek financial support from their ‘supporters’, ‘friends’ or ‘patrons’.
    I don’t think that even the most staunch supporter of Shetland Arts could claim that from start to finish, Mareel has been a perfectly designed building or that the building and project management stages were carried out without many a hitch. What can be said though, is that Shetland has a fantastic venue, cinema, learning facility and meeting place that was sorely needed and enriches the cultural diversity of Shetland.
    Mareel does face financial difficulties due to the well documented issues it has faced getting up and running but I really hope it can overcome the shackles of its past financial woes and generate enough income to keep offering and improving the services it provides.
    I for one will continue to enjoy it and support it along with thousands of other Shetlanders and visitors alike and I sincerely hope that some of those with the negative attitudes towards Mareel, give the place a chance and rather than cutting their nose off to spite their faces (I’m not saying that is what all those with negative views of Mareel are doing but after discussions with a few folk, it is in some cases), go and enjoy some of the fantastic gigs, films or other events that are hosted there. You never know, you may even enjoy it.

  8. Rachel Buchan

    So it’s not mega bucks? Well, yes it is! Ten percent off popcorn is nothing to me – I abhor the stuff. I will never be able to afford priority booking, so I can more or less assume that I will never get a ticket for any concert that is staged there. And I have no reason to think that I would ever want to book the green room. So as an “average punter”, it would seem to me that I will never set foot in there no matter that I was quite open-minded whilst it was being argued about, and built. More fool me!!

  9. Matthew Simpson

    Just popcorn? I prefer to get a hotdog and a coke. Sometimes nachos. Considering I already have a Gold Card and frequent Mareel regularly I’d be interested in the friend level if the discount covers more items.

  10. james johnson

    good to see the richer island residents will be able to buy privelege in a publicly funded premises. I was disgusted to hear they would have to q with the common person for tickets.

  11. Bill Smale

    So much for healthy eating.

  12. iantinkler

    10% off popcorn, is that the food or some of the import acts?

  13. Johan Adamson

    I think this is a great idea, although I wouldnt be caring about 10% off popcorn.

    If I had any money I would definitely do this, to reduce their reliance on public money and support the arts.

  14. stephen shirmer

    Why does not Shetland arts float Mareel on the stock market , I am shore the investors would get a good return on there dividends- you could always pay them with popcorn.

    • Colin Hunter

      Better idea if they floated it in Lerwick Harbour! Mind you, with the recent spell of weather and associated tidal surges, I’m surprised it’s actually still dry!

  15. Stewart Mac

    The biggest reason this seems like a joke is that the Mareels “business plan” had it as being self sufficient whilst others rightly doubted the optimistic projections made. Now only a little way down the line those projections can be seen to be inaccurate – Why else does the Mareel need £500 from each of its “friends” if not to balance its books? its newly built so they cant be saving up for a major overhaul.

    I do wonder why some who cast doubt on the validity of (defective) business plans are called “small minded” by some on these pages. Now that the prophecies are coming to pass, are those “small minded” individuals now suddenly graced with a greater intelligence than previously thought?

    There’s not a huge lot I agree with Ian Tinkler on, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the Mareel is certainly one of them

    • Matthew Simpson

      Did you read the article? It points out that this is a common thing that theatres and venues do. It’s purely so that people who want to support Mareel have some incentive to do so.

      • james johnson

        yes because everything the arts trust say is always true did you read the business plan thats enough to prove they cannot be taken at their word. Also the point being made is they said they would not need to resort to anymore begging yet they are at it yet again.

  16. Johnny MacLeod

    This is as well thought out as the whole Mareel project.

    Ludicrous.

    P.S. At current rates of investment return, the £9m cost of the Mareel would be earning £500 about every 12 hours!

  17. Iantinkleer

    If Mareel goes belie up, any chance of my £500 back? Just a thought. Perhaps I should send my money to “Friends of Rural Schools”. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. iantinkler

    How about all those Councillors, past and present whom voted to forward the Mareel project, advocated Shetland Charitable Trust funds to keep Mareel afloat, and voted for the complicated £1.1 million lease bailout, each donated £500 to this idiocy. They were all very free in squandering scares public funds. Now you bunch of collective fools, show us publically if you have any ethic and personal commitment to Mareel. Also a few of the Mareel Stakeholders, whom oversaw this idiocy, with such incompetence, could perhaps do the same. . Lol, some chance, with such people of straw.

  19. Gary Cooper

    No drama. Standard stuff and a way to secure cash. Good business for what appears to be a well-used venue. Wish I was back in able to use it! It’s a shame that many people seem to waiting in the side-lines with the statement of “i told you so” – Keep going strong Mareel and silence the maddening crowd.

  20. Robert Duncan

    This is a fine idea, already in practice by independent cinemas up and down the country. That said, even as a very regular visitor to Mareel these perks have absolutely no value to me. Use of the green room seems like something with very niche demand.

  21. Robert Sim

    I couldn’t agree more with Gary Cooper and Robert Duncan in their supportive comments. What is the point of knocking Mareel now that it is here and providing a benefit to the community? This scheme shows that Shetland Arts is making sure it earns its keep. Just out of interest, below is the Royal Scottish Museum’s “begging-bowl” page. Is that also a disgrace and a joke? https://www.nms.ac.uk/support_us.aspx

    • fraser cluness

      I looked at that link i i think its value for money, i cant say the same for what mareel is offering, good idea but we would be better off joining the musuem south than mareel here. discounts in the shop and cafe on everything not just pennies of a box of popcorn which they will put the price up to cover the expence.

      check what you would get if you joined the aberdeen box office compaired to ‘mareel only’ offer here

      http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/become-a-friend

  22. Joe Gordon

    I was interested to hear of this highly controversial scheme. So controversial, in fact, that it quite obviously had to be something brand new and never been thought of before. But surely all the best ideas start off by being ridiculed.. and this one seemed to have some merit.

    So anyway, I thought I would moot this idea to a couple of my local arts establishments – but oddly, in both venues, they laughed in my face. Apparantly this idea is really quite old and has been on the go for many years! Who knew?

    It’s unusual for the forward thinking and generous people of Shetland to be so behind the times…

    • james johnson

      the problem is not the idea of gathering donations but the fact that a. it is giving the opportunity for the better of to jump the q for buying tickets for sought after events something the example of the scottish museum shown does not b. this again provides evidence not that more is needed that we were all presented with a business plan that was complete lies.

      • Joe Gordon

        Some places offer piority booking at levels much lower than the £250 required here. Its not uncommon.

        Its interesting to note that some are objecting because they think the benefits on offer are too much (priority booking), and some that it is not generous enough (10% off popcorn).

        This would indicate that maybe they are close to the right balance?

        My view? A friends scheme is always more about supporting something that you believe in and less about what you can get back. If you want to support Mareel, then buy one. If you don’t, then don’t. If priority booking is important enough for you to spend £250 on, then do it. But realistically, how many Shetland Arts events sell out anyway?

  23. iantinkler

    Its that 10% on popcorn that knocks my socks off. Just who thought that one up? a bit passé for an arts centre, or is Mareel now a commercial cinema, bar and café? I wonder how that qualifies Mareel as a charity? I will not tell the Charities Commission, honest.

  24. fraser cluness

    The idea is a good one, lots of venues up and down the country do these, however i think what you get from them seems to be a lot bettervalue than whats on offer here.

    Attached is the closest friends scheme, that i even think we would be better joining for the rare day we are in Aberdeen. Its Aberdeen Box Office, which like the shetland box office covers diffrent venues inc theatre and music venues. you get discounts in ALL venues which have shows on every day somewhere. You get discounts on Tickets, which if you go to lots of things is more worth it than pennies off a thing of popcorn.

    Its does however gives trustees, managment and main suporters a chance to put their money where their mouth is and i look forward to see how many of them cough up £500 for their iconic dream now they have the chance. For most of us we just wanted a cinema (like we have sooth) and we got 1 and a 1/2 screens. Its also a shame they didnt include discounts for the Garrison Theatre or even Bonhoga, not that they put anything on i the theatre anymore, everything seems to be moved to the Mareel.

    see what you get for the same or less money in Aberdeen -

    http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/become-a-friend

  25. iantinkler

    “or is Mareel now a commercial cinema, bar and café? I wonder how that qualifies Mareel as a charity?.” Could someone please enlighten me, are the bar and café in Mareel run as charitable status? If so is that not a bit inequitable for the other commercial bars and cafes of Lerwick having to compete?

  26. Ali Inkster

    Joe its not the priority booking for Shetland arts events that is of concern but events put on by other promoters at mareel, why the hell should the few get priority, we have all paid a heafty price for this facility that only some wanted. now those same folks are to get priority booking for putting their hands in their pockets to back something that with all the rhetoric coming from them they should have been doing anyway.

    Now where the hell is our ten pin bowling alley?

    • Joe Gordon

      Oh, can Shetland Arts decide who gets priority bookng for external promoters gigs? I suspect the promoters might have some g to say about that…

      • Ali Inkster

        “for £250 punters can become a supporter which entitles them to priority booking for events in the main auditorium” as promoters other than Shetland arts put on events in the main auditorium then they will be subject to this.

      • Joe Gordon

        Does it say all events, or just events? I didn’t see anything saying it was for every event.

  27. Stewart Mac

    Firstly, I will say to those that doubt, yes I have read the article

    Some posts on here seem to have very short memories – YES this is fairly standard stuff for various art galleries, venues and the like on the mainland, NOT normally at the £500 level and NOT normally to cover glaring holes in the accounts. With some limited exceptions (before some smartie jumps in say “what about X,Y or Z” They are usually specific to particular projects or improvements.

    Remember this venue was “sold” by some, and vigorously promoted by others as being capable of being self sufficient and would no longer be a drain on Shetlands (now getting scarce) financial resources. Here we are a very short while (relatively speaking) after the doors were opened to find that the accounts don’t stack up, the glaring holes that were pointed out at the time are coming to pass and if hard working Shetlanders don’t now bail the place out even more the £9M “invested” will soon turn into yet another white elephant. If it had been sold as a loss leader, openly and frankly then this would only be to be expected.

    I would love to see the place prosper and thrive but Shetland is too small to support such a venue, much as I would like it to be different and is being asked to throw more money at it, this time direct from the public as the chances of a “charitable” donation are slim to none. Importantly what I would also like to see are those accountable for the mess and the (at best) optimistic projections being held to account for a change.

    • Robert Lowes

      I find it curious that people ares making wildly accusatory inferences about Mareel’s finances without any evidence in support of such. There are two simple facts that demonstrate to the contrary. Firstly, national level funders like the National Lottery, Scottish Arts Council and the Highlands and Islands Development Agency do not (so far as I am aware) invest into capital projects like Mareel without serious scrutiny of business plans. I would venture to suggest that their staff are rather more experienced at this sort of thing than vitriolic commentators on the Shetland Times. Secondly – no-one is being forced to hand over cash unless they want to. It’s a personal donation, much like someone would give to any other charity. That does not equate to a serious flaw in business plans, or the precious finances of the Charitable Trust being put at risk. Less hyperbole and more rationality would be welcome, if unlikely from certain quarters.

      • Ali Inkster

        Robert the business plan stated it would pay for itself with 30,000 folk through the door and it has failed to pay for itself with 100,000 through the doors, this is not hyperbole this is a cold hard fact. And I along with a lot of other people would like to see those responsible for the financial disasters held to account for a change instead of the usual golden handshake.

  28. Jim Leask

    Ian, plenty of charities run businesses, it is standard operating procedure for so many charities as a way of supplementing their income. From a point of view of the Trusts operating in Shetland and their charitable status, did you complain about unfair competition before Mareel came on the scene? What about the ‘Tuck Shop’ at the Garrison Theatre? The Cafe at Bonahoga? The Loch Bar at Clickimin which is part of the Shetland Recreational Trust….or even their vending machines? What about the Amenity trust and their holiday let’s. What differentiates Mareel from the other examples, besides your loathing of the place? You are, as you so often do on these pages, using flawed arguments to try and reinforce your very one sided points of view. Maybe I am mistaken and owe you an apology for such a slanderous accusation? If that is the case, I will give it after I see a copy of your rants, sorry letters, condemning all other charitable organisations or trusts with charitable status for their efforts to try and make ends meet through their business arms or enterprises.
    I would be keen to know what you propose for Mareel and the people at Shetland Arts that are obviously working hard to continue to make the place successful (which it has been) and sustainable for the future? Can you think of a sensible, pragmatic proposal, using factual information and not let your personal feelings get in the way? If so, please continue the discussion. If not then you could always give your keyboard a break and try find a new way to take out your frustrations?
    I for one, will buy into the scheme. I think it is a sensible option that has been proven up and down the country in many different venues. I am not doing so to get cheap popcorn, use of the green room or even priority for bookings, I will do so because I believe Shetland needs a venue like Mareel and even though there have been mistakes made along the way, we need to move on and make the best of the future, not keep dragging up mistakes of the past!

    • Johan Adamson

      HMRC do investigate social clubs, charities etc up and down the country, checking that their income is declared which is subject to corporation tax. There is no advantage over ordinary companies in being a charity for tax. SADA would have been taxed on its income had it made a profit on trading, I think.

      However, a private company would not have the resources to build something like Mareel, or something as expensive as the cafe in the museum, thats where the disadvantage is. An individual would have to find millions of pounds at great cost, to do the same. So they do have a competitive advantage to other businesses here, especially cafes and bars. But how else do we get businesses like this here? We no longer have victorian benefactors willing to finance a large venue here, so the public sector do it. I like Mareel, it’s like an escape to the centre of Edinburgh, but in the middle of Lerwick.

      And I do think the SIC do too much trading, I think it stiffles any private individuals who might want to trade (the quarry, the airport, planes, IT services, payroll services, etc).

      But I agree with you, Jim Leask, I would also buy in, to support it, to make it less reliant on public funds, rather than get anything out of it personally. Putting my money where my mouth is.

      • james johnson

        Is it not true that the council lets them pay no rates?

      • John N Hunter

        All charities are entitled to 100% business rates relief, as other premises run by voluntary groups, such as social clubs.

    • Robert Duncan

      Whilst I don’t want to support Mr Tinkler’s views on this issue, it is unfair to accuse him of hypocrisy here. I have seen him aim similar comments at the Hay’s Dock restaurant of the Museum, quite recently on these very pages.

      • james johnson

        i am aware that charities get rate relief the point i am making is that they are not payain as much tax as other companies offering the same services ie pub restaurants hotels cafes as a result every time somebody buys something in mareel instead of the private sector it denies the council income.

  29. Jim Leask

    I stand corrected Robert. My apologies for thinking you only had it in for Mareel, Mr Tinkler. My point stands though, a wide variety of charities and trusts with charitable status have cafes, restaurant, bars, shops etc at the heart of what they do to allow them to provide a service to their communities. Shetland Arts do not deserve to be so singled out by so many for using the same method to help them provide services for the community.

  30. David Seymour

    There are several accusations of financial mismanagement and dishonesty on the part of Shetland Arts in this discussion, yet no evidence is provided to back these claims up. The most recent figures published by Shetland Arts (their annual approved accounts), and the accompanying media scrutiny late last year (October, as I recall) did indeed highlight the financial difficulties caused by the overrun of Mareel’s capital programme but noted revenue was generally in-line with projections.

    The capital programme account now appears to be closed (through external capital injections, or bail outs – call them what you will) but there is no evidence to suggest that revenue is, or will be, out-with previous actuals and forecasts (and a ‘friends scheme’ is unlikely to have a significant impact either way). From my understanding, the business plan has held up well thus far, bearing in mind the capital over-spend.

    Please note that I have no loyalties or bias in any direction other than hoping the project succeeds, but I do find the repeated accusations and personal insults coming from the perpetual detractors to be rather unpleasant and divisive. I humbly suggest that if people have evidence of malpractice then they take it to the relevant authorities rather than make baseless accusations on the Internet.

  31. iantinkler

    It will be good to see the detailed accounts, for Mareel. My fears are that it is failing and that would be a shame. If it is possibly heading in that direction, how Shetland Arts can beg funds from friends? I have seen nothing to remotely indicate it is breaking even financially, in fact quite the opposite. The attempted selling of Shetland Arts assets, such as Kergord Hatchery would indicate to me as serious financial problem. Just my opinion, now where are the figures, any new enterprise would normally have detailed accounts by now. My concern is that under the leadership of Shetland Arts, Mareel is more of a “Charity Case” than a charity. It appears the only truly successful part of the Mareel project is the cinema, bar and café. Strange to call a commercial popcorn palace a charity must be quite unique to Shetland.

  32. iantinkler

    Jim Leask, I think Robert was either being sarcastic or disingenuous. I have made no comment about the Hay’s Dock restaurant . Perhaps Robert’s attempt at humour, Lol.

    • Robert Duncan

      Certainly not meant in jest, not sure what element would make it humourous were that the intent. If you have not made such comments I must have misremembered, perhaps it was somebody else.

      • John Tulloch

        Great idea, Robert! Let’s have a big bun fight about whether Ian criticised Hay’s Dock Cafe, as opposed to discussing such mundane matters as the shape of local democracy and Shetland’s constitutional position.

      • Robert Duncan

        What an odd reaction to what was largely a passing comment, and initially meant in defence of Mr Tinkler.

        I’m not entirely sure why my comments detract from discussion of the matters you mention, you’re quite welcome to carry on discussing those as you please, Mr Tulloch.

  33. David Seymour

    I understand your concerns Ian, and the selling off of a capital assest such as the Kergord Hatchery would indeed seem indicative of an organisation in need of raising capital. However, Shetland Arts chairman has been open about this and publicly commented several times on the capital position.

    That said, the one-off capital build costs (which appear to be concluded) are not indicative of the revenue viability of Mareel. Shetland Arts’ last set of audited accounts (available on their website) does indeed draw attention to the organisation’s precarious financial position due to capital overspend, but does not seem (to me at least) to be cause for concern re: revenue projections.

    Most other published data I am aware of is in relation to higher than expected footfall, which in turn would indicate a higher than predicted income. Obviously the net result will be dependant on outgoings, but in the absence of such data I suggest any conclusions are no more than conjecture.

    I look forward to Shetland Arts’ next set of audited accounts with interest.

    With regard to accusations such as incompetence and a mismanaged build phase, I have some experience of publicly funded capital build programmes and I suggest that the challenges and obstacles faced by Mareel were in no way unusual, particularly in such a hostile financial climate. My experience is that such issues are often amplified by the media who are in the business of publishing stimulating stories, and subsequently magnified by disproportionately vocal detractors. A normal week on the building site where good progress is made is unlikely to make many headlines or cause supporters to be voicing their opinions publicly. Often those who are in a possession of the facts, or a position to clarify them, must refrain from public comment due to contractual obligations as will have been the case with Mareel’s client and contractor. An often frustrating position for all.

    Public discourse is indeed a very healthy thing, but opinion masquerading as fact, baselessly drawing conclusions and personally insulting others is not in the spirit of open and productive debate.

  34. iantinkler

    David Seymour , you state “I have some experience of publicly funded capital build programmes and I suggest that the challenges and obstacles faced by Mareel were in no way unusual”, if that were indeed so, David, how come Shetland Arts and Mareel stakeholders were too stupid or ignorant not to know the same? How come they failed to allow for such eventualities in their business plan? I do not wish to be insulting but do the facts not speak for themselves?

    • Carl Pickard

      “Stupid”, “ignorant”, “sycophants”, “fools”, “idiocy”…it goes on.

      I genuinely hope you manage to fill the void in your life which sees you rant this way Mr Tinkler.

      Maybe go see a film or something? As you state above, Mareel is here now and it would be “a shame” to see it fail.

  35. iantinkler

    Out of interest and to fill a void, Carl, what do you think went wrong?. Why the so late opening? Why the huge overspend? Why the near Bankruptcy of Shetland Arts? Why the out of court settlements and bail outs? Was that competent, clever and intelligent management, by Shetland arts. I think the facts are self evident to most impartial observers.

    • Robert Sim

      Ian, have you asked these questions of Shetland Arts? They are best placed to answer. If you have, what were their answers? If you haven’t directed your questions to them, why not?

  36. David Seymour

    Mr Tinkler, I consider my self to be an “impartial observer” and from my viewpoint it seems you’re fixated with blaming Shetland Arts and the ‘stakeholders’ (?) for each and every problem the build program faced. That is a particularly simplistic, perhaps naive, view. Shetland Arts were the client – they are not architects, project managers, quantity surveyors, contractors, lawyers, funding bodies, accountants or any of the other specialists who contribute day-to-day to such a project.

    To a large extent, clients are at the mercy of the professional advice they receive, the services they engage, fluctuations in financial climates and material costs, the capacity of the local industry and a multitude of factors over which they have no control.

    For example, are Shetland Arts to blame for not foreseeing the global banking crisis which was the root cause of several subcontractors going into administration and elements of the build having to be re-tendered during a period of intense construction activity at the Sullom Gas Plant? These protracted processes can take several months, even years, and delays cost money as well as time. This is but one example, and one of many which were well publicised (the Mareel page on Wikipedia has an interesting timeline of the construction with links to archive news stories).

    The funders (some of whom regularly finance public capital builds) and the relevant UK regulatory bodies will have imposed tight restrictions on the contractual process and the build program, but even the most carefully considered plan cannot safeguard against every eventuality, no matter how much contingency is set aside. If there were to be contingency in place to cover every worst-case scenario few buildings would have the finances to get off the ground.

    Mr Tinkler, as an aside, if you “do not wish to be insulting”, why must you use such odious language, particularly against individuals who for contractual and professional reasons are unlikely to be able to publically defend themselves against your attacks? The aggressive slurs you continually post are deeply unpleasant, indicative of malicious prejudice, reflect a lack of knowledge of the subject and are often skirting on the boundaries of harassment and defamation.

    As you rightly say, the facts speak for themselves, so I humbly suggest we stick to them.

  37. Carol Roberts

    It seems that the ugly truth about Mareel keeps raising its head I like many more could never understand how this place got the go ahead to begin with. Cut backs all over the island hitting the young and old but a fortune was put into a something that was not needed. The Garrison, Islesburgh, Clickamin and all the halls and bars held all the music venues we needed and films were shown at many places. Imagine if that money had been spent on the venues that were already there at least the pensioners would still be able to meet and eat at Freefield Center someone needs to be held accountable for the waste of the public funds.( We could always take the school kids there for their schooling since so many schools are closing)

  38. Jim Leask

    @Carol – The SIC stopped using Freefield (a building they didn’t own) and moved the (non-essential) sevice to Islesburgh (a building they do own) which is a warm, easily accessible building, with good facilites. What a scandel Carol. Imagine saving money but keeping services going! What are our elected officials thinking?

    Seems to me they are damed if they do and damned if they don’t.