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Community / New funding for arts, culture and heritage sectors welcomed

Shetland Museum and Archives.

THE OPERATOR of the Shetland Museum and Archives has welcomed news of a new £1.57 billion emergency fund for arts, culture and heritage from the UK Government.

Shetland Amenity Trust chief executive Mat Roberts said the organisation is hoping to tap into the fund and is in touch with Museums and Galleries Scotland to find out more about how the money will be distributed.

Nearly £100 million is expected to come Scotland’s way through the scheme, which is designed to provide emergency funding for premises like theatres, museums, galleries and music venues.

The fund will also cover heritage sites.

“Overall it’s good news and a positive result of the collective efforts of arts and cultural organisations across the UK,” Roberts said.

Shetland Arts chief executive Graeme Howell, meanwhile, said he would comment further once more details are known.

Both Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Arts have furloughed the majority of their staff, with neither charitable organisation yet able to reopen any of their premises.

Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston hailed the announcement of the new fund, saying the loss of summer trade has affected culture and heritage business in areas like Shetland.

“Shetland hosts a wealth of creative and heritage activity which reflects our distinctive culture, and which attracts thousands of visitors every year,” he said.

“However, the loss of much of the summer season poses a grave threat to the financial sustainability of much of the sector notwithstanding the huge commitment of the UK Government’s job retention scheme which is currently underwriting the costs of many businesses here.

“This further financial support is a very welcome recognition of how important it is that we do everything possible to sustain our cultural, arts and heritage organisations, whether large or small, through this very difficult time.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she “very much welcomes” the funding news.

On Friday the Scottish Government announced its own £10 million fund for arts venues.

“I want to give an assurance today that the funding announced last night by the UK Government will be passed on in full in Scotland to our arts, culture and heritage sector,” Sturgeon said on Monday.

“I hope today’s news together with last week’s announcement from the Scottish Government will provide people working across the sector with some optimism about the future.”