Mareel delays bring extra costs but budget will not be breached

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.


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