Shetlanders are continuing to flock to Mareel’s two cinema screens in huge numbers, with over 100,000 tickets now sold since the first screening just over a year ago.
That makes an average of more than four visits per islander since 31st August 2012. According to Shetland Arts, the figure is more than double the 39,000 attendances aimed for in the 2008 business plan for the venue’s first year.
The 100,000th ticket holder won a special prize: a year’s free gold card subscription entitling them to unlimited films at Mareel. The winner was announced at Thursday night’s Home Made, a screening of short films made by Shetlanders that was shown as part of the annual Screenplay festival.
As a “special surprise” to celebrate surpassing 100,000 cinema attendees, Shetland Arts has put films up until 19th September on sale early – allowing customers to book tickets for the next fortnight in advance.
Shetland Arts director Gwilym Gibbons said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to the cinema-going public of Shetland. The level of attendance is extraordinary when we consider the number of visits that is per head of the population.
“We’re delighted that the level of cinema attendance has been sustained beyond the ‘honeymoon period’ of the first few months of opening last year, with Despicable Me 2 (which opened on 28th June) being our second busiest week of cinema since we opened.”
It is expected that trustees will shortly approve Shetland Arts’ annual accounts for 2012/13, the first financial year in which Mareel has been open.
When those figures are published, it should give a clearer idea of how the £13 million cinema and music venue has affected the arts agency’s financial position.