Arts chief Gibbons heads down under for Melbourne social enterprise forum

Shetland Arts' Gwilym Gibbons is heading off to Australia
Shetland Arts' Gwilym Gibbons is heading off to Australia

Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons is off to Australia this weekend to attend a social enterprise forum in Melbourne, prompting criticism from the isles’ MSP.

The development body will be represented by Mr Gibbons at the forum, with the trip being funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). According to their press statement, the event will “promote high level discussion on the future of social enterprise”.

The group are to be joined by a larger Scottish contingent including representatives from housing associations, the NHS, the Scottish government and social enterprises and firms from across Scotland.

The statement continues: “The highly charged programme will allow the participants to interact with each other and international policy makers, funders and support agencies.”

Mr Gibbons said the trip was coming at a key time in the development of Shetland Arts, as it looks forward to opening its £12.2 million cinema and music venue in early 2011. “We are very grateful for HIE’s support in allowing us to attend this event,” he said.

“Attending an event of this scale will bring huge benefits, both by allowing us to connect with other creative arts enterprises nationally and internationally and by learning from other creative local enterprises with successful sustainable business models.”

But isles MSP Tavish Scott said it was a questionable use of public money in a time of severe economic constraints in the public and private sector. He said: “Many small businesses are looking for financial assistance and HIE have no budget to now help. While this visit may be useful, I think there are more deserving areas for public money at this difficult time.”

As well as attending the world forum event, the group will visit social enterprises in Broome, a tourist town in the Kimberley region of West Australia. HIE’s Kerrien Grant said rural aspects of social enterprise in Australia mirrored those of the Highlands and Islands, with “long distances and dispersed populations being two obvious comparisons to make”.

“After the world forum we will meet with a number of Aboriginal people who have set up and are running social enterprises in eco tourism, crafts, health, media and aquaculture. By being the chance to see, question and experience these social enterprises we will be gaining insights into the motivation, commitment and future potential of these communities.”


Add Your Comment
  • Jordan Ogg

    • October 1st, 2009 15:15

    I think that the public will be very interested to hear about Mr Gibbons Antipodean experience. Therefore, I think it’s only right that he present a short summary, followed by a question and answer session, on how he will transfer the “huge benefits” of this this trip to the work he does here in Shetland. I suggest that this is done at the Shetland Arts offices sometime over the weekend following his return. Anyone else agree?

  • Gwilym Gibbons

    • October 1st, 2009 21:36

    Hi Jordon, I do!

    I’m more than happy to share my findings from the CEiS study trip. I propose sometime in early November for a short presentation and Q&A session. Please call Shetland Arts on 01595 743843 and leave your contact details if you are interested. I will set a date time and venue on my return. In the meantime please follow this link to find out more about the CEiS study programme –

    A little factual correction regards the article above – as I understand it the funds supporting the trip of the 20 delegates from across Scotland is not just coming from HIE. Funds are coming from a range of sources: HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government, sponsorship and a significant contribution from a range of Australian organisations including the Australian Government.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.