It was a community affair when Mareel “officially opened” at the weekend.
There was no special guest to cut the ribbon. Instead every visitor to the venue on Saturday was asked to snip off a piece to mark the opening.
The cuts of ribbon were then given to visitors by Shetland Arts volunteers as pin badges as a memento. Cinema-goers and music fans were also treated to cakes and sweets as part of the opening event.
Dougie MacLean and indie-band Aberfeldy were among the visiting performers who entertained over the weekend. But Shetlanders were given the chance to shine with support slots and a Shetland Meets Appalachia concert on Friday night featuring Bruce Molsky.
He teamed up with some of Shetland’s finest home-based musicians such as Gary Peterson, Maurice Henderson, Maggie Adamson and Brian Nicholson, the Cullivoe Fiddlers, the Heritage Fiddlers, Lynda Anderson, Ryan Cooper, Freda Leask, Peter Woord, Hom Bru, Haltadans, Fullsceilidh Spelemannslag, and Sheila Henderson to explore the roots and commonality between the North American and Shetland traditions.
The party continued with a music session in the cafe bar afterwards, with Mareel Ale, brewed by Valhalla Brewery in Unst, available for the first time. The live music continued in the bar throughout Saturday and on Sunday Shetland artist Callum Moncrieff opened his exhibition in the upstairs cafe bar.
Marketing officer, Lisa Ward, said the event was about “celebrating with everyone”.
“It was a real joy to see everyone who walked through the door cut a piece of the ribbon and declare the building officially open – exactly in the spirit of the weekend. The events, too, summed up exactly what Mareel is all about – showcasing excellent talent from Shetland and beyond, as well as emphasising Mareel’s links with venues around the Isles.”
In a speech to mark the opening Shetland Arts chairman Jim Johnston thanked community members – both those who have supported Mareel and those who opposed the scheme.
He said: “Many of them have supported the project with an unwavering enthusiasm that has carried us through a complex process. Some have been critics, questioning the viability or value of Mareel, but they too have played their part in ensuring that we have a robust product that will deliver for the widest possible range of people.”
Report, photographs and reviews in Friday’s Shetland Times.