A PROFESSOR for creative industries is to be appointed to Shetland College, part of the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) network.
Councillors in Shetland voted in private last week to contribute £250,000 towards the five-year project.
A socio-economic report presented to councillors estimates the potential value to the local economy at around £2.4 million per annum.
The £670,000 project depends on also getting financial support from Creative Scotland and Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE).
UHI said their principle contribution will be in the form of allocating funded undergraduate student places worth around half a million over the first five years of the initiative.
Shetland College chairman Drew Ratter said the move would further enhance what was already “a roaring success” at the college, namely its textiles and music studies.
“This development will see the Highlands and Islands – and Shetland – taking a leading role in developing and benefiting from a growing sector.
“We are better fitted to supporting this chair than, I think, anywhere else in the network.
“The appointment of the chair will be an incredibly important one. I would hope that an appointment could be made early in the New Year.”
A central remit of the post will be to develop the economic base of creative industries in the isles.
The UHI’s dean of arts, humanities and business, Dr Neil Simco, said: “This is a major step forward towards making a professorial appointment with the potential to develop research and scholarship of international stature.”
Chair of the council’s development committee Alastair Cooper added: “There’s been an increase in recent years in the number of new companies working in areas such as textile design, photography, furniture-making, craftwork and video production.
“Basing such a unit here in Shetland could help create and develop such home-grown companies, as well as attract interest from further afield.”
Councillors decided to invest in the project during the same week they closed Olnafirth primary school, saving £97,000 per annum.
Councillor Ratter said the issues should not be linked: “These two things are completely separate issues. Fact is, this is an opportunity for a broad range of creative people to develop small businesses, which will be very valuable to us in the future.”