Crazy move by trust (Mark Wylie)

So Shetland Charitable Trust has decided to stop funding the famous isles music festivals and make drastic cuts to Shetland’s popular leisure facilities.

Surely, when funding began, it should have been agreed to maintain levels where public facilities could at least remain open – to spend millions on each facility and now have to consider closing some of them is completely crazy.

Having worked for Shetland Recreational Trust (SRT) for 29 years, I realise what a huge part the centres all play in their respective communities.

Yes, the charitable trust has to make savings now and build up reserve funds for future generations; no-one can argue with that. However, if our festivals and leisure facilities suffer will there be much to keep future generations in Shetland, not to mention the vast numbers of tourists who flock to Shetland for the world famous music festivals.

Surely we should protect what we already have before considering spending money on new projects? Shetland needs to be kept an attractive enough place for people to stay and bring up children.

The SRT facilities are very successful and versatile as well as being exceptionally well used and I believe the Shetland public are very proud of what they have. Nowadays we seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Mark Wylie
2 Coutens Place,


Add Your Comment
  • Steven Jarmson

    • June 15th, 2015 20:31

    Well said Mark.
    I think you’ve said what everyone else is saying, but just more joined up.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 17th, 2015 9:53

    So, imagine a world where the SCT has had to give all its money to VE to build the turbines, massively overspent on months of blasting rock, digging peat moor until doomsday, the massive costs of shipping up the turbines, moving them, gigantic cranes, gigantic concrete making plants, the massive necessary accounting provision for future maintenance and fixing the road network demolished by the weight, not to mention the contribution required for the cable, and the fact that the government are removing on shore subsidies. SCT will have no money left to invest in anything else so then have nothing to generate income on, and all of these trusts will have to be wound up. If we dont have the money for them, they will have to disappear along with all the facilities they own.

  • Alvin Leong

    • June 17th, 2015 10:22

    Not that crazy, if the music festivals are as famous as you claim, then they should be able to stand on their feet without needing handouts. Real famous music festivals do not need propping up by charities.

    • George Pottinger

      • June 17th, 2015 18:05

      Alvin Leong – “Real famous music festivals do not need propping up by charities.” Please name one, run entirely by volunteers, that fulfils your criteria? The Shetland Folk Festival is renowned all over the world so can rightly lay claim to be a really famous music festival. It relies entirely on a volunteer committee who give many hours of their own time to put on an event that is revered by international artistes from the far corners of the earth and brings many overseas visitors to enjoy it. To disparage it by insinuating that it is diminished by having charitable support, for an event that gives enormous pleasure to thousands annually, is very demeaning.

      • JohnTulloch

        • June 17th, 2015 22:10

        George, I couldn’t agree more. Shetland is a far cry from Glastonbury and “T in the Park.”

      • Alvin Leong

        • June 18th, 2015 16:28

        Glad that John brought up Glastonbury which I will use as an example. In 2005, Oxfam provided volunteers for Glastonbury and received £200,000 in return. Oxfam had been providing volunteers for their wages as donations yearly. Another example, in 2003, half of the £1 million ticket sales went to various charities. As for T in the Park, it is privately funded and, far as I am aware, needs no input from charities.

        SFF needs both charity funding AND volunteers to function? Hardly comparable to a real famous music festival. In fact, neither SFF nor half the artistes that performed this year even have a Wikipedia page, one benchmark of the level of fame.

        I had never heard on the national news, who will be playing at the SFF but I do hear about who will be at Glastonbury. Another benchmark about how famous each event is.

        If it is as successful and popular as you claim, then it can stand on its own feet without needing a charity to hold it up. Real famous festival give back to charity not take from them. if not, just admit it is not all that famous and will fail without charity payout.

  • George Pottinger

    • June 19th, 2015 15:38

    Just a point of clarity to Alvin. The Shetland Folk Festival IS A
    CHARITY! Ultimately the Festival was set up 36 years ago to help
    promote Shetland’s rich musical heritage and provide a platform for
    Shetland’s local musicians to perform at an annual Festival alongside
    visiting musicians. Comparing a Festival staged in Shetland
    (deliberately held in communities throughout our remote island group)
    to Glastonbury (and its massive catchment area) is quite frankly
    ridiculous. I wonder why Glastonbury and T in the Park don’t feature
    in the Rough Guide’s Five Top British Music Holidays?

    Shetland Folk Festival Society, Registered Scottish Charity (SC013445)

    Finally, Alvin, why you consider that inclusion in the self-aggrandising Wikipedia listing is meritorious is beyond me.

    George Pottinger,

    • Alvin Leong

      • June 19th, 2015 17:02

      Thanks for your clarification. Yes, I can see on OSCR website now that SFF is a charity. Now the question, why is this charity taking money from another charity (SCT) then? Looking at SFF’s report for the past 5 years, its income has always been greater than its expenditure. So why does it need SCT’s funding and why the moan about the lost of SCT’s funding?

      Also thank you for confirming that SFF is just a small local party instead of a famous real festival.

      The reason I am looking at Wikipedia is, love it or hate it, anything that is worth mentioning will have something written about it there. There is no entry for SFF nor half of its performers for this year.

      And since we care comparing lists, SFF does not feature in any of the follow lists. How do you explain that then?–best-music-festivals-2015-guide-10114432.html

      Like I said, hardly that famous. I rest my case.

      • Mhari Pottinger

        • June 19th, 2015 23:50

        Good grief Alvin – most of the organisations funded by the SCT (today and previously) are charities. Please check very basic facts before making misleading references. They say ignorance breeds ignorance so your reference to SFF’s income being greater than its expenditure for the past 5 years also needs corrected. You’re clearly not capable of reading these accounts because actually expenditure has been maginally higher for two of those five years and for the others (2010 aside – which was an exceptional year with a one-off tax rebate and project specific funding obtained) then actually the Society has been operating pretty much on a break even basis. Had SFF income been £18k higher than expenditure each year – you may have had a point! Great research on the Festival’s list – the Shetland Folk Festival has featured in many such lists in previous years and I’m sure it will again. In recent years, it has been listed by The Times as one of the world’s most exotic events and the Observer as one of the top 10 Folk Festivals to mark in your diary. Goodness knows who does the research to come up with such lists but how fantastic that what is ultimately a very small Festival and run entirely by volunteers appears in them. Shetland has a lot to be proud of – including the Shetland Folk Festival. You seem intent on attacking it. Each to their own.

  • David Gardner

    • June 20th, 2015 14:34

    Alvin. Your comparative ‘research’ quite simply beggar’s belief and is simply further proof, if any be needed, of how so called ‘facts’ and statistics can be twisted to support any argument one wishes to put forward. I’m glad for Shetland’s sake the rest of us appear to inhabit the real world as you clearly do not. To compare the likes of Glastonbury or T in the Park to a relatively small but hugely successful regional folk festival borders on the farcical / downright ridiculous, and were your ‘observations’ not so infuriatingly wide of the mark they would be laughable too.

    And as regards your ‘measurements’ of how good or successful an event of this type is – or indeed the quality of it’s musicians and / or musical programme – re inclusion on Wikipedia or whatever else you choose to dredge up to support your argument……well the less said the better on that!!! Suffice to say I would view it as a desperate and somewhat pathetic attempt to salvage your sinking ship of an argument.

    Rather than spend your no doubt valuable time pouring over so called ‘research’ of this particular nature in a somewhat mysterious attempt to malign a hugely successful and much valued community event such as this, the phrase ‘get a life’ springs to mind.

    Support what you say 110% Mairi. Thank heavens for the rest of us you have your head screwed on at least!!!

  • David Gardner

    • June 20th, 2015 15:08

    You should also note Alvin that very few (if any) folk festivals throughout the UK as a whole make the national news either for that matter – not just the Shetland Folk Festival. And there are admittedly bigger and perhaps even more prestigious folk festivals than our Shetland one – i.e. Cambridge – which rarely, if again ever, attract any national media attention either, whichever artists happen to be on the bill there. From your exhaustive ‘research’ please name me one – bar perhaps the huge event that is Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival – that regularly make the national news or even the Scottish national news for that matter??

    This, of course, is nothing to do with lack of artistic quality, appeal or indeed perceived overall success. It’s just a plain fact that events of this kind – bar perhaps Glastonbury itself – do not attract national news coverage. And even when they do it’s more often to do with 100,000 people trudging knee-deep in mud, drug arrests or 20 mile traffic jams that made the headlines rather than the programme itself let’s be honest. That’s what makes your ‘measurement’ of what you appear to term ‘success’ nothing short of downright baffling!!!

    Finally…….. If the Foo Fighters – or whoever else on the Glastonbury bill – had been headlining the Shetland Folk Festival this year, then I think that might have made the national news too don’t you think?

    I now rest MY case too!!!

  • David Spence

    • June 20th, 2015 17:48

    I fully agree with Dave on the impact of the SFF and the enrichment it brings to the islands and the world in promoting Shetland as well as Folk music.

    I was lambasted a little for implying the management of the SFF were payed, and I was wrong on this assertion, to which I profoundly apologize.

    You cannot make comparisons between the SFF and T in the park or Glastonbury as they are completely different in regards to expenditure and income, as well as much, much larger crowds. It would be interesting to assess what the figures would be if the SFF was held on mainland UK? (hypothetically speaking).

    I am sure many Shetlander’s will be wondering if the cut to the SFF will have a serious detrimental affect on the event or what the SFF will do to continue the event without this extra funds?????

    I sincerely hope the SFF will survive, and to grow and grow to the extent this funding will be a distant memory.

  • Andrew Leask

    • June 21st, 2015 11:16

    If people like the folk festival they should just pay more themselves, it should not be up to the Shetland people to subsidizes them, no one subsidizes me for my interests.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.