Gibbons to quit in September

Shetland Arts Director Gwilym Gibbons is to leave the organisation in September after eight years in the job, it was announced today.

Gwilym Gibbons
Gwilym Gibbons

Mr Gibbons was the first man to be appointed as the agency’s director and oversaw the tricky opening of the cinema and music venue Mareel.

He plans to develop a new Shetland-based consultancy agency offering practical support to the UK cultural and heritage sector known as Creative Help Ltd.

He said: “It was after careful con­sid­eration and with a certain sense of sadness that I tendered my resig­na­tion as SADA’s first director.

“The past seven-and-a-half years have been an extraordinary, full-on journey for me both professionally and personally and I’m hugely proud of the growth of Shetland Arts over the period of my tenure, and of the range and impact of its activities during that time.

“I have always maintained that the individual who leads Shetland Arts through the challenges of its post-Mareel construction and open­ing phase should be someone dif­ferent from myself, someone with a fresh approach and new ideas. Now is the time to make a positive move that will facilitate bringing those fresh ideas into play.”

He thanked the board, staff and volunteers at Shetland Arts insisting: “It has been a huge privilege and a joy to work alongside such a talented and skilled team of people who are an asset to Shetland Arts and to the community they serve.”

Shetland Arts chairman Danus Skene said: “We share the sadness that Gwilym expresses surrounding his decision to leave Shetland Arts after his eight years with the organi­sation. On behalf of the board and staff of Shetland Arts I thank him for exemplary service.

“He has made a unique contribution to the wellbeing of the Shetland com­munity through his leadership of an agency which provides such diverse services to so many.

“The scale and breadth of the work of Shetland Arts under his leadership deserves to be widely celebrated.”


Add Your Comment
  • fraser cluness

    • March 6th, 2014 19:10

    Well as a former member of staff i wish Mr Gibbons the very best in his new venture, why wate till September though? Shetland arts needs to get up on its feet, sort the string of negitivity in the Mareel service. plus do something with the Garrison, he and others have been quoted as saying ‘the Garrison Theater would go from strenth to strenth when Mareel came’, up until i left working there at Christmas he and his palls have done next to nothing with the venue.

    The (Islesburgh) Garrsion was a venue you couldna get a date to put a show on because it was flat oot with bookings (that was one of the main reasons they [SAD]used to get Mareel) , almost all the good shetland arts activities were skimed off and sent down to mareel, leaving the building empty, in the past year while if it wasnt for the country club conserts (2 plays and the panto) the building would not have had a single thing on many months. Shetland arts was developed between the islesburgh trust and shetland arts trust, from the very begining they started to wipe islesburgh and what good it did before they came to be. Islesburgh were just about to replace the seating in the theatre as they were due to be replaced – we are still waiting

    Remember it was islesburgh youth club, then Islesburgh Trust that started showing relese date films in the theatre not shetland arts, although they seemd to have forgtten that and take all credit for themselves on web pages etc. It was islesburgh that built the need for a cinema venue in the first place.

    Allmost all but a few islesburgh door staff are left. do you remember visiting drama? staff conditions and wages was the next on the hit list making everyone loss inhanst rates of pay for weekends and late nights to a single rate – no questions asked slashing some people wages drematicaily so they had to leave. no union conseltation that i know of. People working every day on core hours should not be on 0% contracts.

    Every time i do go to the pictures almost all the mareel staff have changed and everyone seems to be at the ‘i’m new’ level of speed and service. Id love to know how many cafe staff have a full hygine certificate? High staff turnovers always says something to me.

    You can make comments on theire facebook or in emails,letters or in person all are ignoreed unless hundereds of people do the same, (thats the only way we got selected seating in the cinema, despite it being very common south to book you seats as normal practice, i was told the director had to give in to this but still kept one chunk online so no-one could actualy see how many seats were not sold) thats if they dont drag you in for coffee to shut you up or even block you from making comments on their facebook page at all. Then they were the ‘give us £500 and you can book a room no-one else wants to book offer!’

    Yes mareel offeres lots of the things south venues offer but to me it seems when they get your money customer service seems to go out the window, unlike more helpfull venues from aberdeen and on.

    Anyone else made a mistake when booking tickets and try and get them changed? not a chance here! you can in Aberdeen Box office, cost you £2 but its better than lossing money alltogether.

    A que around the building reflects bad managment on the door only having 2 puting bands on or checking tickets isnt enough, not look how good we are! Make it into a press releise.

    Hopfull under new managment all 3 shetland Arts building and not just Mareel will be better off.
    Then shetland arts might be looked at more favourable throughout the entire community and not just the small group of groupies. lets hope the ship dosent sink when the last one gets off

  • Johan Adamson

    • March 7th, 2014 10:37

    Fraser I think you are right on the use of the Garrison, we need to get more groups interested in rehearsing there and putting on plays, and it might be good to see visiting drama groups. Not sure if you can blame Gwilym for all of this though, and I too wish him all the best and think he has done some good work too. I think they have been so busy with Mareel they have had to take their eye off the ball a bit on other stuff. I dont understand why they dont put the operation of Mareel out to tender (get another operator for it) and appoint someone to look after the Garrison part time, and then they can concentrate on arts development.

    There is maybe an opportunity with Gwilym leaving to save some money, maybe in having fewer arts dev officers and centralising admin with other trusts, but that is up to the Trustees.

    I also agree on the spin aspect. There are only positive messages from SADA, which is only right, but not when that means hiding your dirty laundry in the cupboard and not dealing with it, or if you cant let anyone else help with it.

  • stephen shirmer

    • March 7th, 2014 10:48

    compared to many rural towns and villages I have visited, Shetland has just to many halls and venues for the population and they are unsustainable in the long term to keep them all afloat.

    Before the powers to be ever decided to build this Mareel they should of looked at how the Garrison theatre and Isleburgh where adequate for all of the Shetlanders needs, not forgetting all the public halls dotted over the islands !

    • fraser cluness

      • March 7th, 2014 13:32

      i can asure we tryed to tell them, but they knew better and the locals knew nothing, staff meetings were interesting as we were dictated to like we knew nothing. one line manager said at a staff meeting SADA is not a democracy. and i can vouch for that. i could give you a list if crazy ideas they made us do, change for change sake – we are in charge now etc etc.
      If you didnt like it they may made life hard for you. as most of us were on 0% contarts you had to be carefull as the next months rota could be sparce. however the yes peole got on great!

      The top brass dont take being questioned very well. Dispite having staff with 20-30 years experence they are rode right over. i hope when they get new staff managment team they get someone outwith the agency to vet them before they move them up here. The old boss should never pick the new boss! They need a new style of pepole at the top and in the booking office they book the same kind of acts that get only 50 folk, in a 300 seater venue this is not an sucsess in my book. thus we never hear how good the main part of the building is doing??? wonder why, its because its a desaster! only things that seem to do well in that part of the building is what outside premoters book into the buildings. They are too much of the same celtic conections copies, from men from this or that old band rather than the actual band itself (saving money) then if you try to help giving constructive critisume they either ignore. go in a masive strop, or pleeps its not easy asking you to try it instead.

      why the trusees remain trustees beats me as id be so ahamed with the critisum the trust has received over the last few years. but we can see through the ‘we are delighted’ spin say nothing about the bad service.

  • Ian Tinkler

    • March 7th, 2014 19:37

    “The scale and breadth of the work of Shetland Arts under his leadership deserves to be widely celebrated.” Danus Skene, Has G B jumped off a sinking ship, or was he pushed? Are we best to celebrate his achievements or his parting? Is Shetland Arts still selling of its assets in an attempt to stave of bankruptcy? Some legacy to leave behind after 14.5 million of public funds down the Mareel cash drain!!!

    • Bill Smale

      • March 8th, 2014 12:31

      Do we some to bury Caesar, not to praise him?

      • John Tulloch

        • March 8th, 2014 20:59

        I’m not sure, however, we may certainly say the slashing of the old folks’ Christmas Bonus is ‘the most unkindly cut of all’!

  • IanTinkler

    • March 11th, 2014 8:52

    To quote , 06/09/2013, Just for a change “Gwilym Gibbons is delighted” “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”. !!! I am sorry did I blink and miss these figures?

    • fraser cluness

      • March 11th, 2014 14:18

      not read it, any mention on how many came to their music venue events they put on or how much the cafe makes? and matching that up to the business plan?

      i can guess the figures for the same dates in the theatre 0! as they have put on nothing (apart from couple nights youth theater)


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