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Mareel - Cinema & Music Venue


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Guest Anonymous
I think it would be the Dolby Surround Sound system that would give a great cinema experience, not the acoustics of the room. Will the main venue hall be equipped with this, as well as the cinema area? Adds a few more quid to the bill if its to be installed in both areas.


Its takes both of course. You can have a great PA anywhere but if the building is wrong it still sounds poor.


The Garrison has dolby surround sound already!

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This is exactly the point the shetland people are worried about - any report can say things the way the people writing it can doctor it so it 'make it sound good'. but no actual fact if they would ever have a contract to get them, this is exactly why the western Isles cinema went flat on its face


Which Western Isles cinema. If this is the Stornoway Playhouse it closed when it was discovered to have unacceptable fire risks.....just after showing a film that the "Wee Frees" claimed was going to bring retribution upon the cinema as it was blasphemous........one of those "Christ" movies.

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At the meeting last week I clearly stated to davy gardner that we had in fact lodged objections to the proposed venue. This started as long ago as 2001. I have copies of all corespondance and as yet no one has contacted me or indeed and of the local licensed trade to hear our views or concerns regarding the proposed venue. Two of the letters were sent direct to the scottish arts council who stated that copies were sent to shetland arts trust in which it clearly states that they had spoken to the project team who were to be in touch with us directly to discuss our concerns. We are still waiting!!!


I will check on this Phillip as its news to me. Were they official objections of any kind or just letters of concern? However the Scottish Arts Council were not involved at that time, and are still not as a organisation.


The SAC National Lottery is a very different and seperate beast and only became involved at a later date when we went for lottery funding. As I say I will check this out, but at no time have I personally been contacted by the SAC on this issue and I can recall no time when they spoke to the project team even indirectly with such concerns.


I also sat on the SAC music committee in Edinburgh for a number of years and I can categorically say that this topic was never broached, either way, nor did I seek to involve them in it. They did not, and still do not, as an organisation have a direct or official role to play or involvement with this.


In the future its possible we may seek revenue funding for the venue from them and reduce the projected £80,000 deficit even further without using local money. However, this can only be done when we have a specific programme to show them and they will only support this if that programme meets whatever criteria they work to at that time


Why did you not seek to meet with us (SAT SIC etc) directly rather than complain to Edinburgh?


If as you say you are "still waiting" (since 2001) and we did not act at that time, why has it taken so long to point this out to us? Personally I've not been low profile on this issue or other music development initiatives (sadly at times), my number is in the book and there has been lots of subsequent publicity in the public domain i.e. Shetland Times.


Equally, we have spoken many times informally as I regularly drink in the Lounge it has to be said, and I cant recall even an informal conversation on this issue at any time, not one of consequence at any rate.


SAT have also formally used the Lounge on a number of occasions over the years to assist with the promotion of a number of our events (and we certainly hope to do so again, and we do so at present of course with the young trad sessions, which you support so wonderfully with us) and again I cannot recall this issue being a topic during those occasions.


We have also met with you and Kareen of course to 'formally' plan these events, when it would perhaps have been more apporpriate to let your feelings and concerns re the venue be known to me, especially any perceived shortcomings in our reaction to your letters or similar re the suggested lack of consultation. I imagine this would have been more appropriate, and formal, than informally discussing this issue over the bar or in public. Again I (or the project team or whoever) would have been more than happy to meet with you or the SLTA had you requested such a meeting - again I cannot recall this being directly requested at any time. Sorry it may be my memory but I can say no more.



We find it totally unacceptable that we have not been consulted and all our correspondance has been ignored by the local project team.


You are more than entitled to your opinion but I simply cannot agree with this. As I said earlier it seems to have taken a long time (almost 5 years) for you or anyone else to point out that we have apparently not responded to previous correspondance, although I am certainly not seeking to dispute its existence.


We certainly had no reason to ignore any correspondance and I would seriously like to think that neither I, nor anyone else in a public position, would have done so for any reason, especially given the gravity you place on this issue. I most certainly have never done so under any circumstances in the past and I'm a bit disappointed that you would think, or suggest, that I would take, or support, such a stance. Indeed we were fully, and quite rightly, expecting to hear from the licensed trade on this issue.


Perhaps we were wrong to assume that the apparent silence from this direction meant that you had no concerns or objections with the proposal, but we can hardly be chastised for assuming 'silence was golden'. As I also said earlier, prominent members of the licensed trade attended both public meetings in Lerwick, and left without making any significant comment. And as I also pointed out, there were also well advertised ones held in rural areas that were not too far away from Lerwick which you would equally have been quite entitled to attend.


Had we indeed adopted such a complacent, or even arrogant or dismissive, approach toward such correspondance we surely would have fully expected you to come back to us quickly, and in no uncertain terms and create a real 'stink', especially before now and so far down the line.



I can assure you that I am not just defending my own business here. I really feel that due to the current economic climate that we simply cannot afford such a rolls royce model in our small community.The council is already facing the biggest financial cutbacks in living memory and we simply cannot afford to contemplate considering a venue which will only add to this already serious financial deficit that Shetland is facing.


Believe me when I say that I / we have the greatest sympathy with you on this Phillip, its just that we have seen no serious evidence to suggest your fears are fully founded - at times quite the contrary to be honest i.e. Kirkwall, Skye etc


Hopefully all the business related factors and concerns you quote will be taken into account by the council, given the full range of 'evidence' in front of them, when and if they take the final decision whether to proceed to the next stage or not.


As I have pointed out, part of this process is looking at rationalising other associated and existing public services in this sector so that any identified savings may be made, without loss of actual service, and any so called additional cost relating to this new facility will be counter-acted by other public savings in this respect.


It has been suggested that, even given different budget headings and processes, that never-the-less ours is a 'global budget'. Although this may seem to be the case to 'outsiders' this is far from true in reality. Public money is made available from a number of sources for specific purposes and cannot simply be spent where and when we want. i.e. money provided for 'social' purposes cannot be used for say providing care centres, keeping schools open or whatever, much as some would like to . I f we do not choose to use, or attract money, provided for social purposes, funding agencies will simply not provide it to us and, in short, Shetland will simply loose out in this respect.


Also there is a more general aspect to one arguement. I have seen trusts such as Islesburgh, SRT, the Arts Trust etc set against each other in terms of competing, especially if a new arts facility is provided in the future. This is misleading.


Given the fact that they are all funded and managed in the main by funds from the Charitable Trust, the main source of local funding in this particular respect, this is not really the case. Indeed where public money is potentially wasted (in my personal opinion) is by operating them through seperate admin processes at present, whereby SAT for instance have to pay for hiring the Clickimin Centre, Islesburgh etc and vice versa and someone (probably more than one person) is required to administer this purely internal process. In other words the CT currently provide us with funds to hire other public facilities also funded by them. An internal 'money-go-round in effect. Clearly not a logical way of doing public business.


Islesburgh is about to return to council control rather than remain an independant trust, so some things will change in this respect. However what we can do to potentially save costs, or at least offset any new (or additional costs as they are currently perceived) associated with any new facility, is to look at improved and co-ordinated internal management and rationalisation of this element of the public sector for the future. These facilities should then provide our community with a complementary, affordable and sustainable public 'service (and I believe a public / private one into the bargain) long into the future.


Continual rationalising of these public facilities (remember they already cost a great deal of public money as I detailed earlier in this thread), especially now that more of them than ever are operating under one roof so to speak, and funded from one pot, should and will deliver savings that can hopefully at least partly offset and support new initiatives and developments. This, added to potential 'investment' in a suitable arts programme by external funders should go a long way to making the much used statement 'best value' work in reality for once.


Remember the very existence and operation of all these existing public facilities, as they currently stand, are totally reliant on public funding (from both in and outwith Shetland) that could alter significantly at any time, potentially creating a risk to their continual existence, and this factor has to be continually taken into account and their ongoing existence, as they currently stand, continually justified.


Much as some would like it, maintaining everything "as is" in this respect, ad infinitum, or how it has been in the past, cannot always be an option. Eqaully the private sector, in terms of social provision, is driven by ever-changing market forces.


All we are seeking to achieve here is a more stable, high quality, continually developing and hopefully affordable social provision for the future of our islands and its cultural and tourim sectors into the future


Things and times move on and we have to move with them., especially if we are to retain or attract young people in our community.

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Then you don't need to build a new venue for this. Improve the seating in the Garrison so you can have your "comfortable seated gig" and still go to the North star for a dancy gig.


And the under 18's and all those, shall we say more 'mature' sectors of the community - not to mention tourists? The North Star, good service as it offers, does not seek to cover all bases, musical genres and sectors for obvious reasons.


Good as the Garrison is also, there is also no hope of offering a fuller range of social amenities. Not important to some maybe, but vital to others (families for instance), especially if they are to be encouraged to come our for an evening, and especially if they are not pub-going people.


Equally with only 280 seats the Garrison can only attract and afford a certain type of event - most certainly not the larger or more expensive ones that many in the community would love to see. If this were to be to done (in order to pay for itself, or at least cost effective, as many seem to desire, to reduce the pressure on the public purse) the cost of the tickets would be astronomical - something else we get regualar complaints about as is.


And I've covered the regular availability (or lack of it) of the Clickimin Centre before, especially if we were to sseek to put more mid-size events i.e. between 280 and 1000+ into there. Again this would add significantly to the cost of the ticket for such events.


We canna win!!!!

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Yes they are, but when I've mentioned figures from the business plan to Davie he has repeatedly said that I have been quoting an old business plan. There may be different versions on the go.


The only relevant business plan is the latest one and as I've already asked should we always be looking at how things are at present or how then might be in future?


I'm equally sure if we were to look back in time we would find all sorts of different anecdotal evidence. Single snapshots in time are always dangerous to base any plans for the future on. Especially a future that could be more buoyant again at any time. Surely we wont always be in so called melt-down, if indeed we are at present. Sorry, but evidence does exist to suggest this is not the case.


I'm interested in Tommy from the Noost's statment that the pie is only so big. Again perhaps the existing one, maybe so, but we have found clear evidence out there of a pie that has yet to be eaten so to speak and once again are we purely looking at this 'pie' from a purely pub perspective?

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I've had a quick look at the business plan and there are some (to my mind) ridiculous projections. I'll speak about just 2 of them.


Lies, Damned Lies and, Business Plans :lol:


I have to admit that I have never seen a credible business plan (and I've seen a few). Most are built around 'assumtions' that seem to have been reached without any valid research.


So what do you suggest as an alternative? - being constructive as well as destructive would be more helpful and it would appear to me (not that I'm an expert) that they are such plans are pretty much the norm in the business world in general - so surely they some at least have some credibility.


A really good test for the funding of the proposed venue would be to present the business plan to a bank. If they would finance it.....


I really dont know of any bank that would debate or review the relevance or otherwise of such a plan, or consider funding social amenities and services from their perspective unless they were purely commercial driven and profit making of course - that's why we have public funding agencies in the first place, to consider and take such decisions. They are financial institutions too you know


Are you suggesting that bank are the be all and end of of financial planning?


As an aside;

My Council Tax bill shows an increase of more than £200 this year and the 'pro' lobby are glibly stating that an extra £80,000 (their figure not mine. More likely 4 or 5 times that in my estimation) is 'insignificant' against the overall spend. Yeah..


We've never played down any deficit figure however small - others (council tax payers too remember as we all are) have suggested or observed that, when set again the total or other associated SIC / Charitable Trust budgets or expenditure this is not a large sum.


I have also hopefully shown in other threads how this deficit, and more besides, could be saved from existing budgets and rationalisation of other service provision in this sector alone, thereby potentially totally eradicating the deficit in this particular respect.

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This is one point the Arts Trust dream list does not cover


another point i have heard of is in 'the' report it aparently states some thing like - for a cinema to operate sucesfully the films should be showen as near to the releise date as possible.


The councelers read this as " oh that sounds fine" but the relality is that WE would NEVER get films near the releise date. In an independent cinema - as stated many times in this forum and the other one - local small cinemas only get film copies after the big cinemas are finished with them - usualy 3 - 4 weeks after they come out.


like in Orkney and the Western Isles the films are anchent!


This small but very importaint fact has been obmited from the report.


glossing over 'dreams' as 'facts' do misslead everyone


I'm not involved in the cinema eleemnts, directly at least, but one of our consultants is. He's very experienced in these matters, and carries a great deal of national respect, especially in rural terms and he does not agree - so at some point we have to believe someone and I've not heard anyone submit any real evidence to ridicule his findings.


Perhaps a more realistic comparison would be Thurso where, to the best of my knowledge, this is not the case and the place is runnning very successfully both operationally and financially - an yes our consultant was involved in that project too.


All I want is to cut through the hype, rhetoric and spin and get some real facts and some REALISTIC projections.


Only then will people be able to make informed decisions.


So what do you suggest as an alternative to that which presently exists and the process employed?

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The business plan I'm looking at is dated 16th March 2006.

I'm assuming it's the latest one but am happy to be corrected.

Is the business plan a public document? Could we make it available for folk to read via this website? I'd be very interested to see it


For sure it is Bryan so I can see no reason why not. However the council not SAT (yes we are different) is the 'client' for the consultants findings so the final decision would be up to them. I will contact George Smith on this and the issue regarding the other documents being posted here or wherever.


They were posted on the council website for a long time - not sure if they still are (again see "lack of consultation" accusations) and this fact was well documented in the Shetland Times at the time and we took public feedback on it from a range of sources as part of the consultation process.

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I thought the new space was to be a 300 seater or 600 standing. Presuming you would expect people to sit down to watch a performance, how is that any better than the Garrison's 280 capacity? Its only 20 more people - hardly going to make a difference to the total income/expenditure figures for a performance.


Also the Council's reserves are slowly but surely slipping away. A time, then, to be looking at saving AS MUCH as possible, not throwing more away. I understand what you are saying when you said £80,000 was a small amount compared to the council's total expenditure, but if every trust and department were to take this attitude there will be b***er all left in no time at all.


You say you're trying to attract new people and keep people here in the future - who's going to want to come here when the council is practically bankrupt, they can't get a job, there's is no housing or education available for their families, etc? That could very well be the scenario in a few years' time at the rate the reserves are being depleted.


I have children and I hope they will want to live here when they grow up, but, honestly, an arts venue is not going to be one of the factors they will be considering when making that decision.

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Moving away from the reasoned ethical debate for a moment - I can’t see any need for a cinema because I don’t particularly like going out to see a film. I’m not going to campaign against it though because I’m prepared to believe that others do and will want to use it. I do think that including it has caused an unnecessary distraction when surely the main reason for the build is the music venue (i'm sure others would disagree). The venue will provide a high class music venue for showcasing and developing Shetland’s talent which is arguably worth the large investment…..the cinema will provide (at best) a decent venue for showing Hollywood’s films…… Could the main venue hall not be dual purpose?


Oh and by the way we attracted an additional £250,000 from the lottery, over and above our original application, to do just this as they, from their experience, believe that two screens, however they are provided, is the most suitable format to provide choice and additional customer attraction. So it didn't cost Shetland a penny in this respect.


For our detractors information the sum of £2.2M we attracted from lottery sources was one of their biggests awards and was by far the biggest during that particular round of capital bids (they have now closed for three years)


To be honest they thought it was one of the most "exciting" projects they had seen for some time (taking all the integral development and outreach aspects into account). Others in our community may think or choose to believe differently and that is their perogative, and I totally respect their views - but not all the lottery people are desk bound beauracrats - I've met a lot of very 'real' people there too who certainly seem to know their stuff.


And yes they did see the business plan(s) and had their 'financial' experts and consultants challenge them too - so at some point we mere mortals have got to believe somebody.

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Also the Council's reserves are slowly but surely slipping away. A time, then, to be looking at saving AS MUCH as possible, not throwing more away. I understand what you are saying when you said £80,000 was a small amount compared to the council's total expenditure, but if every trust and department were to take this attitude there will be b***er all left in no time at all.


Council finances are a very complicated issue. What I can say is that the funds you have read about in the paper and the council cutbacks would not be any different if the venue goes ahead. It was covered in one of my previous posts, but to cut a long (and boring) story short, the fund which would be used to fund deficit funding of the venue is currently in a healthy condition (increasing).


On the financial projections - £1,400 per day might be a tad high but it should be achievable.

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I can't see it being achievable. Maybe at weekends or during holidays when people are around, but not during the week. The people not working are pensioners and young parents, in the majority - neither of which are a high-spend catagory of people, I would have thought. It's either a lot of food & drink, or very highly priced food & drink.

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At the meeting last week I clearly stated to davy gardner that we had in fact lodged objections to the proposed venue. This started as long ago as 2001.


Just one more point on this one Phillip which I am a bit confused by (probably easy done as some might say). Although the cinema and music venue project(s) had of course been bubbling away, largely independently, as potential public funded projects for a number of years (the first formal, public driven mention of a dedicated Shetland music venue was in a report compiled in 1998), I personally only brought the then stalled music element fully back to life in early 2002.


This was when I once again formally raised earlier plans re the idea of a purpose built facility to act as an 'exit strategy', as they call it, for the Music Development Project, which was originally due to finish in the first half of 2002. In other words i had to find a way of working myself out of a job as MDO at project end - no sypathy required - that's just the name of the game.


This was with a view to continuing the work done to date via the project if my post were to be discontinued. In other words we had to try and deliver a sustainable 'end result' to justify the initial funding and to possibly attract or secure more external funding in this respect the future.


So from there, until it really took off again some time later down the line, was quite a few months at best - I'm not too good on dates and timelines I have to say - but I do know that the project was only due to wind up in 2002 and I saw this development as a potential way of keeping things going.


Once that was underway the proposed facility as it now stood (ithad previously been referred to as a 'shed' - and was related to performance events only) was once again brought into the public domain in a much higher profile so to speak and this has gone on, off and on, since then.


Why did this activity, or any of the more recent ones, not jog your memory as to the fact that your previous concerns had, in your opinion, not been addressed by us or that you had yet to be consulted on the issue?


As I say my memory might not be all it once was, but I would like to think I would have recalled something at some point rather than nothing at all as at present.

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