19th September 2019
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Jobs at risk as Shetland Arts cuts costs

Shetland Arts Development Agency is reviewing its operations with a view to cutting costs and giving the organisation a stable financial footing.

Staff are being called into meetings to discuss the future shape of the organisation and it is understood that the number of arts development officers may be reduced.

There are presently five SADA employees under the development heading – with an arts development officer for each of literature, drama, visual arts and music plus an exhibitions officer.

General manager Graeme Howell, who took up the post in December, has stated that the agency, which ran into financial difficulty during the building of the £1.5 million over-budget Mareel Arts Centre and had a major fall-out with contractors DITT, must operate on a sound business basis.

SADA, which is now based in Mareel, declined to comment on the on-going staff and operations review other than in a statement issued by Mr Howell.

New Shetland Arts general manager Graeme Howell.

Shetland Arts general manager Graeme Howell.

He says: “Shetland Arts is currently at the beginning of a consultation process with its staff to ensure that it is an efficient and effective organisation able to deliver upon its agreed outcomes. As this is a genuine consultation about a structure it would be improper for us to comment any further on what the outcomes might be. However the management and board are committed to running a financially stable organisation with appropriate overheads.”

SADA is said to be 70 per cent self-financing, with an agreed three-year grant of £750,000 from Creative Scotland helping ensure a guaranteed income for the organisation.

Mareel has been praised as an excellent arts venue in many respects and the building itself has won several architecture awards. However the venue has been bedevilled by funding issues since its 18-month late opening in September 2012.

In 2013, what was effectively a £1.1 million bail-out by Shetland Islands Council was required to keep Mareel afloat.

• Councillors walk out of fiery Shetland Charitable Trust meeting – see today’s Shetland Times for the full story.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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  1. Michael Garriock

    Of course there is absolutely no connection between these cost cutting measures, and the fact SAT, like the Amenity Trust and rural care centres both of whom have already hit the headlines this week over their (or imminent lack thereof) funding from the SCT, is partially funded by the SCT.

    It’s all purely coincidental and just prudent financial management on the part of the SCT to live within their means, I’m sure we’ll be told.

    Get used to there being no SCT money for nothing in a few years time, that’s exactly what this is the start of.

  2. Chris Johnston

    If I take a pie and cut it into many pieces, the pie may appear larger to some but in reality it is not. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”

    • Brian Smith

      That was certainly the case when it came to paying for her funeral.


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