Redundancy risk for Shetland Arts staff despite government support

Shetland Arts staff face the “potential threat” of redundancy as a result of financial losses from the pandemic, according to the trust’s chairman.

Ryan Stevenson said “unfortunately there is still a potential threat to jobs”, alongside programming, despite receiving additional funding from the Scottish government.

The organisation received £247,582 at the beginning of the month from the government’s Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund, which Mr Stevenson said had helped to mitigate a number of job losses.

Trustees met remotely on Thursday evening for the organisation’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), with Mr Stevenson fielding questions after its annual report for 2019/20 was discussed.

A “redundancy process” was ongoing, according to Mr Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson said it was “important to stress the gravity” of the position the organisation found itself in. He added that Shetland Arts was taking steps to ensure it was “still here next year”.

The chairman was responding to questioning about the threat to jobs at the trust and what impact the UK government’s job retention scheme had made.

Shetland Arts had made savings while buildings were closed and staff were furloughed, said Mr Stevenson, but he added that as a Living Wage organisation they had also made the decision to top up staff’s furlough from 80 to 100 per cent, until the scheme changed recently.

Utilising the furlough scheme “did produce savings”, said Mr Stevenson, but the trust had also faced “a massive reduction in income” with savings not matching up to the reduced income from cancelled events, closed buildings and lost ticket sales.

Trustees also faced a grilling over the decision not to take the Wordplay Festival online this year and the future of the Garrison Theatre by participants at the meeting.


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