The controversial £12 million cinema and music venue Mareel is unlikely to open until next year and will not be taking bookings until March, it emerged this week.
While Shetland Arts had previously announced that the building would be open by September this year, instead of the spring as originally planned, ongoing wrangles with sub-contractors mean the handover will probably now be towards the end of this year although no date has yet been agreed between lead contractor DITT and Shetland Arts.
Attendees at a Mareel stakeholders’ meeting on Wednesday night heard that the construction issues were continuing to cause delays and that while the building was progressing, it was still not yet wind and watertight.
As has previously been reported, problems with the roofing contractor TM Dallas, which went into administration in March, have meant work has been pushed back and that rooms which could have been insulated are still waiting for the material to be installed.
In a press release promoting the visit to Shetland in March next year for the first time of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), issued today, Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons said the visit would “coincide with the opening season of Mareel”.
At the stakeholders’ meeting he said that the hold ups were “immensely frustrating” for everyone involved, but that the upcoming RSNO events would be included in an opening programme and that bookings were not being taken before March.
He said: “We don’t have a concrete opening date but the RSNO events will either be at the beginning, middle or the end of a programme of opening events.”
Despite the hold ups, work inside the building is however progressing: power is now live in the parts of the building which are watertight; the structure for the seating in the larger of the two cinemas is currently being installed, as are fibre optic cables and district heating; and the control rooms which will house technical controls for the lighting and sound are complete.
The venue’s website, which will include ticket sales, event information and multimedia and social networking capabilities is to go live in October. Before then a holding website will be put online in around eight weeks’ time.