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Arts / Arts programme draws to a close after busy few weeks

Shetland Arts chief Graeme Howell said it has been ‘inspiring to see the huge range and quality of work being produced even during these challenging times’

Improv comedy group The Imposters.

AN ARTS programme aimed at giving creatives a platform to showcase new material in the pandemic is drawing to a close.

The final events of Shetland Arts’ Refresh Now programme will take place next week.

Before that though Islesburgh Drama Group’s play A Life of Wir Choosin will be broadcast online at 7pm tonight (Friday), while a live performance from noise-laden music outfit Grimlok will be shown at 9pm on Saturday.

Vivian Ross-Smith will head to St Ninian’s Isle between 11am and 12.30pm on Saturday for the final performance of the free-roaming The Islands is the Gallery, which sees her wear artwork in three locations around Shetland and encourage people to find new ways to engage with art.

The fifth and final week of Refresh Now will open with John Haswell and Open Door Drama’s The Rag Tree, which will be broadcast at 6pm on Monday.

The play deals with reactionary attitudes towards AIDS, set against the backdrop of Pre-Christian Scotland.

Shaela Halcrow on stage during rehearsals of The Rag Tree. Backdrop by Laura Hughes.

On Wednesday improv comedy group The Imposters – Marjolein Robertson, Ashlea Tulloch, Alex Garrick-Wright, Les Sinclair and Thomas Jones – will take to the stage at 7pm.

On Friday 30 April at 7pm a one-act play which is part of a wider series written by Stephenie Pagulayan will be broadcast online.

Performed by Islesburgh Drama Group, one central character’s behaviours and experience will be explored.

All works will premiere across Shetland and online across Shetland Arts’ Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channels, and will be available to watch online until Monday 31 May.

At time of recording, artists and performers followed current Covid-19 guidance from the Scottish Government.

A total of 15 commissions feature in the Refresh Now programme, including live music recorded at Mareel and plays staged at the Garrison Theatre, both with no physical audiences.

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Shetland Arts chief executive Graeme Howell said: “Refresh Now has been a really exciting opportunity to provide support and a virtual platform for artists connected to Shetland, while also working with local filmmakers to develop their skills in multi-camera shoots.

“It has been inspiring to see the huge range and quality of work being produced even during these challenging times.”

Programme manager Floortje Matthew added: “Being able to offer opportunities for artists to create new work, collaborate across art forms and find new audiences has been a huge positive in the midst of the chaos of Covid.

“I’ve hugely enjoyed working with so many talented Shetland artists and been incredibly inspired by the work they’ve created.”

Shetland Arts, meanwhile, recently confirmed that it plans to reopen Mareel on 21 May following Scotland’s anticipated move to level two coronavirus restrictions.

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