Arts festival to be staged after lockdown is lifted

A “community driven” arts festival is to be staged in Shetland – about four to six weeks after clearance is given for large-scale gatherings.

“Shetland Unlocked” will create an open platform for artists, musicians, makers, writers and performers to deliver workshops and events that encourage people to re-engage with each other.

The event, organised by Shetland Arts, will showcase the “creative and maker community and give a focus to ongoing endeavours”.

The agency also confirmed that this year’s Screenplay and Wordplay would be cancelled, but the local elements of each would be included in the post-lockdown festival.

Free to attend at Mareel and the Garrison Theatre in Lerwick, and the Bonhoga Gallery at Weisdale, the festival will provide a long weekend of activities, including music, film screenings, theatre, dance, art, literature, craft, wellbeing workshops and activities for children and young people.

Shetland Arts chief executive Graeme Howell said conversations were under way with Shetland Food and Drink Association and Shetland Arts and Craft Association about hosting food and craft fairs respectively over the weekend.

The arts agency was keen to hear from other organisations, venues and associations that would like to get involved.

Mr Howell said: “Individuals and groups can propose performances and workshops that will be programmed across the weekend using all of the spaces and facilities at the organisation’s disposal.

“Some creatives may want to submit new work reflecting upon the current situation, while others may just want to come out and perform their back catalogue.

“Shetland Arts is open to any approach and any outcome, though obviously the normal rules of common decency apply.

“There will be the opportunity for community theatre groups to use the Garrison for performances. All performers and workshop leaders will be paid, and details are available on the Shetland Arts website.”

Mr Howell said it would be a free event, although some spaces and performances would need to be ticketed. If performers or workshop leaders wanted to use the event as an opportunity to raise funds for a local charity or cause then they would be more than welcome, with Shetland Arts providing the buckets.

Mr Howell said: “We want to give our community the opportunity to use our facilities to reconnect with each other and their audiences.

“Anything goes – you may want to put on a scratch play in the Garrison, or showcase a piece of art on the walls of Mareel.

“Your band may want to stand on stage and blast away the cobwebs, or you might want to share a piece of writing you have been working on.

“Any sort of performance or workshop, craft or art piece will be welcomed and hosted. It will be chaotic, it will be family friendly and it will be Shetland.”


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