14th November 2018
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Mareel delays bring extra costs but budget will not be breached

, by , in News

The £12.2 million Mareel music venue and cinema will incur additional costs in the form of architects’ and other fees because of the delays that have bedevilled the project.

But Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons insisted this week that the organisation would not have to seek extra funding.

The building itself is still not fully wind and watertight and there is no firm opening date for early next year. However, planned concerts by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the first two days of March are still on course, according to Mr Gibbons.

He hopes the long-awaited opening date will be known within the next four to six weeks and can then be announced, which is a slightly longer wait than the maximum of two weeks that Mareel’s Facebook page followers were told on Tuesday they must wait to discover the timescale for completion.

Meanwhile, the successful applicants for the jobs of production manager and marketing officer in the North Ness building are to be revealed imminently, once the paperwork is ready.

Speaking from London on Wednesday, Mr Gibbons said: “I’ve no intention to look for additional funding, which is what we’ve said all along.

“I’m not going to predict the future but what I will say is that we are striving to deliver this building on budget and there is nothing that has changed in recent months that is suggesting we are going to do otherwise.”

He said it was understandable that rumours were circulating, given the delays in construction and the inevitable extra costs. “Discussions will take place about where the additional costs end up because there is no point in denying there are additional costs for everybody. There will be costs for the contractor and there will be costs for us but that does not mean that we can’t deliver it within budget.”

A report by development services director Neil Grant, which is available from Shetland Island Council’s website, states that the construction element is still within budget but the “time-related fee element will be exceeded”.

According to Mr Gibbons there are some project contingency funds left, which he did not want to quantify at this stage. The figure of two per cent has been mentioned in the past, which would presumably amount to around £240,000 at the outset of construction.

Internally, much of the work on Mareel is continuing as if the building was wind and watertight and Mr Gibbons argued that the significance of reaching that elusive milestone was up for debate anyway, given that only a few bits remain “wet” and open to the elements, such as the entrance and revolving door area.

Workers are now doing taping and filling and carrying out the mechanical, electrical and audio-visual second fixes. Light sockets and switches are in place.

A new Mareel webpage is due to go live next week ahead of the full site launch in late October.



  1. Well.Here they go again with all the excuses known to man(and woman).What a load of codswallop! Does MRr Gibbbons really expect the Shetland public to believe such untruths?It won’t be long before the begging bowl will be out in a time when the SIC is trying to tighten their belts.I agree with the late Gordon Hank Smith that it shoud never have been built as Shetland only has 23000 of a population and already has enough venues where music can be played.As for the theatre sideiI know from personal experience that unless its a panto or the Drama Festival,you can’t even fill the Garrison.Never mind.The good old SIC will be there to pick up the tab as usual in times of trouble.Its a wonder they didn’t employ a consultant before this project took off but then maybe they did.Our squad hit the nail right on the head this year with our act.Deja vu I think.

  2. leslie sinclair

    Pity they didnt build a cinema at clickimin and used it for the arts too.

  3. william smith

    wow 12,2million, how many houses could that have built, for homless shetlanders. maybe whene not in use, could house the shetlanders in cramped accomodation. maybe they will be the onlyones using it , what a way to spend money in this day off age god, help us

  4. James Stewart

    During WW2, Churchill’s advisers urged him to cut the science and arts budget and reassign them to the war effort. His apt reply was “then what are we fighting for?”.

  5. Carl Pickard

    It seems to me that the majority of the tiresome Mareel detractors don’t even have a basic grasp of where the money has come from to fund the project.

    @ william smith – Check that out and get back to me.

  6. ian Tinkler

    How very true, James, Churchill supported, “the science and arts”, the artists and scientists, not pretentious and excessively lavish arty projects. The Mareel white elephant, has nothing to do with science, does little to promote art, absolutely nothing at all this year! Once pretentiously called a signpost to the future of Shetland! More aptly represents a landmark to the stupidity of the affected few. Still not weatherproof one year late in opening. It tells its own story, some landmark to the future! Electrical and audio-visual second fixes must be interesting. Where does the £12plus million come from, Carl? You and me, nowhere else. From revenues raised by tax. Every grant subsidy or whatever, it all comes from us. I for one could not find a much more stupid thing to waste tax payer’s money on, in a time of shortages and cut backs.

  7. Carl Pickard

    “Mareel…does little to promote art.”


    ian (sic) Tinkler’s credibility explodes.

  8. W Conroy

    Never thought I’d see the words “Ian Tinkler” and “credibility” in the same sentence!


  9. ian Tinkler

    How Classic. To date, £12million down, artistic achievement, absolutely nothing. Project still solvent? I doubt it. Not even a firm date to open!!!! Only the web page, maybe!. Now what a surprise.

  10. Carl Pickard

    @ ian Tinkler – You’ve become a parody of yourself.

    Run along now.

  11. ian Tinkler

    @ Ian Tinkler – You’ve become a parody of yourself.
    Run along now.
    Sorry Carl, I have no idea what you are trying to say. Please explain. Sorry I am not as arty or pretentious as you! Run along now, to where? Parody of yourself, what does that mean?

  12. James Moir

    It is needed. It will be completed. It will be a jewel for the Arts in Shetland. End of story.

  13. ian Tinkler

    James, I hope you are right. I will not argue with most of what you say. I just hope it is affordable.

  14. Why all the bitching?Everybody is entitled to an opinion as the UK is still a democracy or meant o be.Just hope that the project will be self sufficient but I have my doubts.! 12.2 million could have gone towards either a new hospital,or may I dare say it the now forgotten about High School or the Bressay Bridge?.Look how much money was wasted on consultants for thse projects.Wasn’t much mention of cost cutting then.Still,give the SIC their due,they’ve managed to trim a few managers which will save a few thousand here and there.

  15. Kathy Greaves

    I read that ” The £12.2 million Mareel music venue and cinema will incur additional costs in the form of architects’ and other fees because of the delays that have bedevilled the project.

    But Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons insisted this week that the organisation would not have to seek extra funding.”

    Is it not time that we had a full account of all the costs incurred thus far – including those of architects and others – as well as funds and grants given and received from all quarters in the building of Mareel. The project went from asking for an advance on their operational funding (refused) to not having to seek more funding.

    How much has the project actually cost to date? Any facts out there?

    Kathy Greaves

  16. Ewen Adamson

    With regards to a post above, what price was estimated for the Bressay bridge? I do not know the answer to this particular question, but it would be interesting to know just to make a comparison.

    This brings me onto my next point, who exactly wants a bridge to Bressay? The people who live there I assume? So this capital project would benefit a small percentage of the overall population of Shetland. Mareel will benefit a much larger percentage of the population, although I guess it won’t be much good for those too bitter to enter the building once it is up and running.

  17. Colin Hunter

    In reply to Carl Pickard, I am one of those “tiresome Mareel detractors”. In fact I would go even farther than that and say we could well do without “Shetland Arts” in its entirety! It, in common with other similar organisations, is a COMPLETE waste of public money. Money which ultimately comes out of the pockets of Tax paying working people and pensioners who could well do without funding such flagrant rubbish, being that most of them will never set foot in it for any reason whatever. THAT is where the money comes from Mr Pickard, not from some funding body which is totally detached from reality which doles money out for idiots to spend on pipe dreams!

  18. Carl Pickard

    @ Colin Hunter – What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

    Reading? Listening to music? Watching TV? Films? Or are those activities exclusively “for idiots”?

    You seem like a very angry gentleman.

  19. James Stewart

    Colin, if I’m not mistaken Shetland Arts organises some of the most successful and popular social events throughout the year. Screenplay ring any bells? Something which Mark Kermode is a permanent attendee of. Wordplay, Fiddle Frenzy, Guitar Festival… I could go on.

    Society can’t survive on things which are functional alone. Even animals go a bit mad without any form of recreation.

  20. Colin Hunter

    Yes Mr Pickard, I do all of the aforementioned activities from time to time but I’m not much of a one for films. I couldn’t even name the last one I actually watched in a cinema I can tell you when it was though, it was 3 years ago in September in the Warner multiplex in Meadowhall in Sheffield. We went because my son wanted to see it. Even though it was a recently released “Blockbuster” the place was half empty. That in a place with a population of 650,000 (Sheffield and Rotherham combined) so what hope will there ever be of filling Mareel with a population of 20,000?
    Reading? Mostly Motoring and Technical magazines, but If I want books I’ll either buy them or borrow them from the library, which is a well used publicly funded facility. Either that or re-read the ones I’ve already got.
    Music? I have an extensive collection of various differing kinds of music (No Classical or “pop” though) which I listen to from time to time, but for live music I would just go to the Lounge and wait and see what happened. It’s 24 years since I actually went to a staged musical event, the Shetland Folk Festival in the Haroldswick Hall, so you could say I’m not a regular concert buff either. I haven’t set foot in the Garrison Theatre since I left school!
    TV? Well, I like documentaries and drama, but finding something actually worth watching is becoming more of a chore as time passes due to the emergence of such programmes as X factor, Big Brother, I’m a celebrity, Strictly come dancing and all the other so called “reallity” garbage which pours, unabated, out of the various TV companies studios.
    The things I actually enjoy doing in my spare time, I am now unable to do (at present) due to arthritic hip joints. Namely fishing, gardening and working on old cars etc in the garage, none of which tax the public purse one bit.
    Angry? If anything does make me angry, it’s seeing money get wasted on projects such as Mareel, by a bunch of people who’s idea of “Art” is to shine fancy coloured lights on old sheds and the like. That really is a massive contribution to mankind, and there’s more of the same in the pipeline with the “Hansel of light” idiocy that they’re planning for the Olympic Games. As they say, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!” Believe me, it will be no time at all before they’re running, cap in hand, to the Council or some other “funding body” for money to keep the thing afloat. Anger? Pity would be nearer the mark!

  21. Carl Pickard

    Thanks for your reply Colin. I hope you’ll forgive me for not considering your cinema experience applicable to Mareel. For example, a quick Google search indicates there are at least four multiplexes (all much, much bigger than Mareel) in the Sheffield/Rotherham area. Regardless, not every screening at a cinema sells out. Anywhere. Sometimes at Mareel there may only be a couple of people watching films during the day, but this is offset by attendance at weekends. It is how cinemas work.

    I appreciate that you’re not a fan of film – but many people are. Some go as far as to say a town without a cinema is akin to a town without a church.

    It’s good to hear that you’re interested in music and I presume (given your reference to the Lounge) that includes traditional Shetland fare. We’ve done well haven’t we? Our music has travelled the globe, musicians are famous beyond our isles and the potential is virtually limitless. Imagine what we can do with state-of-the-art facilities and education programmes right here. It’s a big deal.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re currently unable to undertake the activities you enjoy, and hope you will be able to again in the near future. In the meantime, think about checking out a film/gig/performance in Mareel. Variety is the spice of life after all, and you might find it’s not quite as awful as you think. Perhaps come to another film with your son.

    Mareel is happening, will be with us soon, and surely no-one can actively want it to “fail” (which it won’t) just for the sake of being able to say “I told you so”.

    I would refer you again to James Stewart’s post above, which could not put it any better:

    During WW2, Churchill’s advisers urged him to cut the science and arts budget and reassign them to the war effort. His apt reply was “then what are we fighting for?”.

  22. ian Tinkler

    Carl, Churchill supported, “the science and arts”, the artists and scientists, not pretentious and excessively lavish arty projects. The Mareel white elephant, has nothing to do with science, has so far at the cost of £12 million and has done nothing for the arts.. Quite apart from wasting funds which could have been far better spent on arts teaching. Free music lessons for example. Never mind the cost, another triumph for Shetland Arts, cost over £500 for every man, woman and child on Shetland, ugly, still leaky, over budget, a year late so far, no opening date as yet, has to rely on bar profits to stay open. O what a signpost to Shetlands future. Truly making or taking stupidity to a new art form!?

  23. Ted Knight

    Why does one get the feeling that the strident promoters of Mareel are getting evermore anxious about ther inglorious example of how to waste public money?

    Could it be that, as the much delayed venture draws ever closer to its grand opening, they realise in their hearts that the concept is skewed and the numbers (visitors and income) just don’t add up?

    It seems to me, and a growing number of like-minded folk, that the elephant is not so much in the room but,coloured white, is alive and kicking, in Lerwick and, before our very eyes, is growing larger and more ridiculous by the day.

  24. Gordon Harmer

    There it stood, just a blocking the sky,
    A corrugated shed so sore on the eye,
    Made of tin and letting in water,
    12 million quid gone to the slaughter.

    Don’t build it there build it elsewhere,
    It should have been round instead it all square,
    It’ll not be long before it’s turned to rust,
    That’s if it floats and doesn’t go bust.

    Well here we are discussing this shed,
    We need it like we need a hole in the head,
    I’m going to write the council a letter,
    As12 million quid could build something better,

    Like a ten lane ten pin bowling ally,
    An artificial ski slope where skiers could rally,
    Where the folk could go have fun and keep fit,
    Where architectural assassins couldn’t make it look like s**t

  25. Colin Hunter

    In reply to James Stewart, I can happily say that I have never been to any of the “social events” he mentions, and so haven’t missed out on anything as far as I can tell. As they say,” What you never have, you never miss!”
    As for Mark Kermode, I can tell you that until last years exchange of letters on the subject of “the Doggy Movie” during that years “screenplay event”, I had never heard of him. My loss, some will doubtless say. I actually googled him and it would appear he’s a film critic, so there you go! Why would I read or listen to, someone talking about something I have no interest in? I still can’t understand why he would come all the way here to watch films that will doubtless look the same wherever they are shown!
    I have also found that films which are listed in the TV times as “5 Star” and “unmissable” by critics, are usually just about utter drivel by my standards, and the ones I have enjoyed generally attract one or two stars at the most!
    It may come as a surprise to some people that we actually managed to stage many events, such as the Folk Festival, before “Shetland Arts” was even formed in 2006, so what have they actually done that is so special? Other than waste millions of pounds of public money that is?

  26. Carl Pickard

    @ Ted Knight: “It seems to me, and a growing number of like-minded folk…”

    You have absolutely no basis whatsoever upon which to make this statement. None. At all.

  27. James Stewart

    Well Colin if you don’t go to these great events that’s up to you, however your non-appearance does not make these events therefore redundant. I believe the very fact that Dr Kermode chooses to come up here and see films which “look the same wherever they’re shown” speaks for itself. Above all, he’s a great way for the islands to get free promotion (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/aug/29/screenplay-shetland-film-festival-kermode for example).

    Shetland Arts may have only been formed in 2006 but it was essentially an amalgamation of two organisations, so it was streamlining the work. Surely that kind of money saving you please you Colin!

  28. ian Tinkler

    .”great way for the islands to get free promotion!!!!!!!!!” £12 million and then some. If some people had any brains they would be dangerous

  29. David Spence

    Dangerous indeed – implying that it costs some un-named entity £12Million for Dr Kermode to promote the islands, events and local talent is about as far out there as anything i’ve seen written anywhere on the internet!

    It is amazing how many otherwise intelligent folk seem to go out of their way to ignore readily available facts and basic common sense in order to make up utter rubbish about people and projects which make a very real difference to many peoples lives.

  30. James Stewart

    Both of you seem to have assumed that I meant Mareel = good Shetland promotion by a high profile individual. What I was clearly saying is that Shetland Arts’ event has brought this promotion.

  31. Ted Knight

    @ Colin Pickard:

    And, may I (and the rest of Shetland) trust, that you are the oracle of clear proof of that which your crystal ball mind presumes to be non fact?

    I read the Shetland Times, particularly the comments from those who see, writ large, the burgeoning White Elephant Mareel that will suck the SIC dry of funds that will be desperately needed in other areas of governance in the coming decade.

  32. Colin Hunter

    Once more in reply to James Stewart. Having read the article in question, I’m not sure that Dr Kermode was actually promoting Shetland for it’s own merits, or for the mere fact that the Shetland Film Festival, Screenplay, was very different to the fare he “normally” got in places like Cannes for instance. Never having been to Cannes I cannot comment on that, but having been to many, similarly hot, places during my years at sea, I can definitely see the attraction of being in a place where you can actually breathe the air, and move more than three feet without breaking into a sweat. What he says about watching the movie in the bus shelter is interesting in two ways. It is not actually the farthest north bus shelter, there’s one at the sands of Norwick unless it’s been taken away, and you’d actually have to go East rather than continuing North to get to Norway.
    He also says that “shocking as it may sound to the metropolitan ear, there are no cinemas in Shetland” It’s at this point that you remember that the North Star was closed because it wasn’t able to make money, and that at a time when most people still only had 17″ Black & White TV sets, or was it the fact that the movies back then were just rubbish? Don’t think so!
    The fact I haven’t been to any of Shetland arts events I have to admit is just apathy on my part, that, and an aversion to crowded and noisy places in general, regardless of the doubtless quality of the entertainment on offer. I would imagine that there are many people the same, who either just “can’t be bothered” or who can’t afford the cost of fuel for a trip to Lerwick on top of the admission and pop and ices which the smaller people in their family will doubtless demand. I have no doubt that, for the people of Lerwick within walking distance, it will be an excellent attraction in the short term. But for everyone else, and when the initial novelty has worn off, it will be just another, over ambitious money pit.

  33. Robert Lowes

    The North Star and Mareel don’t rally compare unfortunately. In those days, cinema reels were shipped on huge, heavy drums from one end of the country to the other. That incurs a considerable cost – along with paying multiple projectionists to make up reels, check for damage, make repairs to the print, maintain the projector, etc etc, which in turn made it that much harder for small independent cinemas to turn a profit and keep going. As technology has progressed however, digital cinemas and digital film distribution strip away the huge costs of shipping, whilst enabling a far greater range of niche programming, which Mareel will be able to take advantage of. Modern, small digital cinemas are able to be run at a much lower cost than the picture-houses of old.

    It is also worth pointing out that much of the money that is enabling Mareel to be built actually comes outwith Shetland, and the money that did was for capital projects. Housing is a completely different and wholly separate budget. The idea that Mareel is somehow using money that could have gone on housing is a complete misnomer.