Arts / Arts agency makes small surplus

An aerial view of Mareel. Photo: Ian Leask
An aerial view of Mareel. Photo: Ian Leask

SHETLAND ARTS recorded an operating surplus of around £15,000 in the last financial year.

This is a drop on last year’s figure of £43,000.

Shetland Arts has reported an operating surplus ever since a deficit of £109,000 in 2014/15.

The financial year runs through to the start April 2020, so the effects of the coronavirus pandemic will not be felt in the figures.


Chief executive Graeme Howell and trust chairman Ryan Stevenson said “2019/20 was a very different time from where we currently find ourselves”.

They thanked their customers for their “amazing support” during lockdown, which saw Shetland Arts’ Mareel, Bonhoga Gallery and Garrison Theatre buildings forced to close for a number of months.

Mareel and Bonhoga has since reopened but at reduced capacity, but there is no certainty over when events will return.

Income in 2019/20 was £2.555 million, up from last year’s figure of £2.425 million.

Ticket sales brought in nearly £500,000 – an increase of £38,000 on the previous year.


Income from catering, hires and retail remained similar to the 2018/19 figure.

While Shetland Arts received around £30,000 less in funding from Shetland Charitable Trust, it secured £353,000 from Creative Scotland – an increase from £257,000.

The organisation spent nearly £50,000 less during the year on its artistic and creative programme, while the cost of trading was down slightly.

However, the building costs increased from £274,000 to £321,000, while admin expenditure rose by £54,000.

Shetland Arts also managed to reduce to its carbon footprint to 268 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. For 2018/19 this figure was 316 tonnes, while back in 2014/15 it was 533 tonnes.

Just over 160 concerts and events were held during the year, with 2,336 cinema screenings held at Mareel.


One hundred and ninety three arts and wellbeing sessions were held, as well as 136 youth development sessions.

There were also 1,792 exhibition days and 1,442 formal education sessions.

Shetland Arts, meanwhile, has been longlisted for the Achates Regional Showcase prize, which recognises ways in which cultural organisations have worked with their communities and how their communities have responded to this work during the year.

Shetland Arts was nominated for its Arts at Home project.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the organisation created a programme of activity, both physical and digital, to be delivered through Shetland’s residential care homes and adult services.

The programme had two key objectives – with one being to connect to participants and community members through the arts, particularly those most isolated.

The other aim was to provide support and work for freelance artists, many of whom lost work and income due to Covid-19.

Arts activity packs were sent in June to care homes along with links to instructional videos to support participation of the crafting activities. A series of digital activities were also provided, some of which were videos, some of which were audio-only.

Hardware and software was also offered to care homes to support with participation.

Shetland Arts worked with artists to make the content relevant to the local community.

Films were recorded outdoors with local scenery in the background where possible, and content included local words, and references to local memories and places to help encourage connection.

The project was made more accessible by including seven recordings with content that did not require participants to look at a screen: two music meditation recordings and five recorded dialect poems.