Councillors today agreed by a narrow margin to provide financial assistance of up to £600,000 to Shetland Arts to help settle the bills for cinema and music venue Mareel.
The issue was debated in private for around two-and-a-half hours before members voted 11-9 in favour of releasing the funds via a .
Shortly after the meeting concluded, a short statement was issued outlining that the council would take action to reassure the community about Mareel’s viability.
Venue owners Shetland Arts asked the council for the extra cash to plug a 10 per cent gap in funding after the £12 million venue’s construction was delayed for 18 months.
The project’s other funders – including HIE, Creative Scotland and the European Regional Development Fund – have all pledged extra cash totalling around £600,000.
A Shetland Arts spokeswoman said its board was meeting in private on Wednesday night to discuss the decision. It will issue a full statement on Thursday morning.
Nobody from the council was available for interview after the meeting concluded. The statement read in full: “Shetland Islands Council has today approved bridging finance to Shetland Arts Development Agency (SADA) in respect of Mareel, on a narrow vote of 11-9.
“A facility of up to £600,000 will be provided to enable the completion of the project. There are a number of stringent conditions attached to this offer to give the community greater reassurance on Mareel’s viability.
“The council will commission a full due diligence study and post-project review. It is hoped that this offer will secure the future of Mareel, and protect the local community’s investment of £6.1 million and £5.9 million of other public funds in this important facility.”
More to follow.