By NEIL RIDDELL
A POSITIVE announcement on the much-delayed EU application from Shetland Arts, which would complete the funding package for the controversial cinema and music venue Mareel, is expected early next week.
Shetland Arts already has just over £9m-worth of funding in place but the final application, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been dragging on for some months now.
The Shetland Times understands that a ministerial announcement from the Scottish government will be made in the first part of the week, possibly on Tuesday, which will confirm that the application has been approved, although the full financial details of the grant are not yet known.
Shetland Arts’ application is for a grant to take care of the remaining costs of the projects, plus any contingencies which could be incurred.
The last estimate, given to councillors in private, for the final cost of the project was £12m, while the arts agency has continually denied suggestions that it could spiral to as much as £15m.
Councillors agreed earlier this year to cap the SIC’s contribution at £6.1m and ensure that it did not become the funder of last resort for the project. The other grants towards Mareel so far are £2.1m from the lottery fund and £965,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons recently confirmed that it was “unlikely” any building work would start at the Slap-owned North Ness site before January.
Negotiations over the transfer of the site are still ongoing and Mr Gibbons said this week that although discussions with builders DITT and their subcontractors were also still in progress, Shetland Arts should soon be in a position to reveal the final costings for the project.
Councillor Gary Robinson last week complained that members were being “kept in the dark” over Mareel and that promises they would receive regular updates on its progress had not been met.