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Arts / Amenity trust steps in to safeguard future of New Shetlander magazine

THE LATEST edition of the New Shetlander will be in the shops at the end of the week after the local literary magazine was rescued thanks to new funding from Shetland Amenity Trust.

In summer last year the team behind the quarterly magazine, which was founded in 1947, put out a call for help after its publishers Voluntary Action Shetland had warned the committee that its future was no longer financially secure.

Since then there have been discussions about how to revamp and promote the magazine, to attract more readers, subscribers and advertisers, while at the same time keeping down on costs.

The cover of the first edition of the revamped New Shetlander

The outcome is a re-design, with a larger page size. There will now be three issues a year, instead of four, with a new magazine every Voar, Simmer and Yule.

The rescue package would not have been possible without the help of Davy Cooper, the amenity trust’s head of development, who sadly died last week.

Co-editors Laureen Johnson and Brian Smith said the committee was grateful to him and the amenity trust for their recognition of the magazine’s contribution to the islands’ historical, political, cultural and social life.

Interim chief executive of Shetland Amenity Trust, Sandy Middleton, paid tribute to Davy Cooper’s involvement in helping the magazine.

“Davy was passionate about all things Shetland heritage and recognised the vital role that the New Shetlander plays in this,” she said

“He not only helped them to secure funding in the short term but used his extensive knowledge and expertise to provide them with advice and support to ensure the publication can be sustained in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Voar edition has a varied range of writers, fact and fiction, prose and poetry to offer including a new folk-loric mystery by Hannah Nicholson, a memoir of Fair Isle by Eve Eunson as well as poems by Jim Mainland, Jen Hadfield and Christine de Luca.

Robina Barton’s article on the future of and equal access to public transport offers a contrast with Lawrence Macduff’s memories of the Earl of Zetland and flit boats.

And there’s sport news too – football reporting from 1932 by Alexander Solotti, and the usual crop of reviews.

The cover of the magazine marks its well-established tradition of highlighting and supporting Shetland’s contemporary art scene, with a painting by Paul Bloomer.

The New Shetlander is also announcing a new writing competition.

People are invited to submit short stories to win cash prizes, while in a somewhat unexpected PR stunt, a video of committee members reading from the New Shetlander will appear on Shetland Library’s Facebook and YouTube channel as of Friday.