Shetland Arts faces ‘undemocratic’ claims

Fierce criticism was aimed at Shetland Arts during its annual general meeting yesterday (Thursday) because of its alleged “undemocratic” methods.

Questions for the board were required to be sent in prior to the meeting so a response could be answered “as fully as possible”, according to the chairwoman, Susan Mail.

And it was this process that came under scrutiny from people who had sent in questions. 

Former councillor George Smith and author Donald Murray called the methods Shetland Arts had taken as “strange” and “unaccountable”. 

Mr Smith recently called for more funding to be found for arts and sports venues, after Shetland Arts announced it was offering 15 staff voluntary redundancies.

Mr Smith said: “I find it strange that attendance in person is not being allowed and that questions are required to be submitted in advance. 

“I would be keen to understand why this approach is being taken, as in all my years of experience in the voluntary sector, I find this to be an unusual way of conducting an AGM”. 

During the board’s response, read out by Ms Mail, people in attendance, remotely through Teams, could be seen to visibly shake their heads.

“There is no requirement for there to be any questions to be taken at all at an AGM,” the chairwoman read.

“But we are keen to hear from the public and we will be launching our customer satisfaction survey next so that people can feed in.”

“We ask that questions are submitted in advance purely so we are able to answer them as fully as possible. We’ve been running AGMs online, in this way, since Covid as it has significantly increased attendance and accessibility.”

She added that she had only ever known for the meetings to be run online.


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