Media Release: A creative approach to the economy of the islands

THE growing importance of the creative industries in the islands was highlighted during presentations to the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) board when they met in Inverness yesterday (Monday December 9).

Two ambitious creative industries developments, one in Shetland and one on the Isle of Lewis have the potential to create over 100 jobs once they are both fully operational.

The £2.5 million Creative Industries and Media Centre at a former textile mill near Stornoway will make a major contribution to the growing media industry on the Outer Hebrides.

In Shetland, work has already started on the £12 million Mareel Centre which is expected to support 53 new jobs.

“The scale of these projects will have a dramatic impact on both the social and economic landscape of the islands. The creation of state of the art facilities will open up opportunities for stimulating new jobs and will support collaboration and growth in the creative industries,” said HIE chair, William Roe.

HIE is contributing a £750,000 funding package for the Stornoway Centre, which is being matched by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. There is also funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Plans for the developments are well advanced and it is expected that a contractor will be appointed in the New Year. The project is being taken forward by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Up to 60 jobs could be created in the first five years.

Construction of the creative industries centre, based in Lerwick, began in June 2009 and is due to open in spring 2011.  In Shetland, the £12 million Mareel centre is to begin recruiting staff in May 2010.

The centre could provide up to 53 direct and indirect jobs in Shetland, which is already home to over 200 organisations involved in the creative industries. The recent HIE Youth Migration Study indentified the creative industries as one of the most important sectors in encouraging young people to stay in or return to Shetland.

In August 2008, HIE approved funding of £965,000 towards Mareel. Other funders of the project include the Scottish Arts Council, Shetland Islands Council, Shetland Development Trust, ERDF and the Gannochy Trust. The Centre will be owned and managed by the Shetland Arts Development Agency (SADA), a registered charity and HIE account managed social enterprise.


Note to editors:
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is the Scottish Government’s regional economic and community development agency for an area which covers half of Scotland, from Shetland to Argyll and from the Outer Hebrides to Moray. Visit for more information.

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Contact: Kim Thain
Phone: 01463 244238