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Arts / Local training solution proposed for door steward shortage

But the idea of having promoters chip in for the cost of training has not been met with open arms

Mareel. Photo: Shetland News

A SOLUTION has been proposed to tackle to the lack of certified door stewards in Shetland which has meant Mareel is unable to host large standing gigs.

In an email seen by Shetland News, Shetland Arts chief executive said there is the possibility of a trainer being able to deliver the six-day Security Industry Authority [SIA] course locally.

This would be run through Train Shetland – but the total cost, including the required one-day first aid course, could reach to nearly £19,000.

As Howell said this is a “Shetland problem” he has floated the idea of setting up a joint venture company where interested parties can contribute to the cost.

He said Shetland Arts, which receives public funding, only requires SIA trained staff to support its own activity two or three times a year, so the “cost and time required exceeds what we can reasonably be expected to commit”.

Mareel can also be hired by outside promoters putting on their own events.

The lack of certified stewards in Shetland caused the cancellation of an AC/DC tribute band at Mareel in December, while some other possible events have fallen by the wayside.

Shetland Arts also said it meant it would not have been able to host a Hogmanay event to bring in the bells for 2022.

An initial up-front payment from events organisers has been mooted, and although Howell said potential funding has been identified which could cover some of the costs this year, this may not be available in future.

But the set-up has drawn some concern from local music promoters.

Davie Gardner, who puts on his own shows through Atlantic Edge Services as well working with mainland-based promoters such as Beyond Presents and Regular Music to support bringing touring acts to Shetland, said local events organisers already struggle to make a profit.

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This is down to the high cost of transporting acts to Shetland, as well as the venue hire, accommodation and food.

Gardner said at Mareel promoters in effect pay for the venue, the technical staff and the front of house staff and are not expected to contribute towards training them – “so why stewards who are a legal requirement for them putting on gigs?”

“Here we are interfacing with a publicly funded venue and expected to fund something that we see as the actual fabric of that venue being able to put on events – not only for us, but for any promoter that hires it,” he added.

Shetland Arts receives regular core funding from Shetland Charitable Trust and Creative Scotland.

For the current financial year the arts agency received £650,000 from the charitable trust to go towards the “costs of promoting, developing and delivering activities in the fields of dance, drama, theatre, film, literature, music, crafts and visual arts”.

Gardner said it is not just Mareel that has the steward problem, with the Clickimin for example likely to be in the same boat, but he was surprised by who pinpointed as funders of the potential new scheme.

One suggestion he has is that the cost of steward training is built into Shetland Arts’ annual cost so that it is hopefully worked into the agency’s funding packages.

Shetland Arts chief Howell said he is not in a position to discuss the possible steward training scheme with the media at the present time.

He previously said that the steward issue is an “upshot of a number of SIA licence holders either deciding to let their licence lapse during the pandemic or deciding to no longer work in the industry” – and this has combined with a wider shortage in hospitality staff.

Meanwhile three seated tribute act concerts will be heading to Mareel in the coming months.

GLK Promotions Scotland is bringing up a Little Mix tribute, a Cher/Shania Twain show and a ‘country nights’ event at the Lerwick venue in March and April.

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