Shetland set to be new regional base for Creative Industries
The University of the Highlands and Islands is welcoming a decision by Shetland Islands Council to invest in a joint project to set up a new Chair of Creative Industries, to be based in the isles.
Dr Neil Simco, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Business at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “This is a major step forward towards making a professorial appointment with the potential to develop research and scholarship of international stature. It is intended that the chair in creative industries will inspire new businesses and support the development of existing enterprises. They’ll also have a particular remit for developing the economic base of the creative industries in the isles and providing advice and support for businesses and practitioners.”
Shetland Islands Council has agreed to contribute an element of the start-up costs for the new initiative. The total cost over the next five years to all funders is £670,000. In addition to funding from SIC and the University of the Highlands and Islands, applications have been made for further funding to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland. A decision by these bodies is awaited.
The SIC will provide grant funding of £250,000 over the same period, through its existing development services budgets. The first year’s grant from the SIC will amount to £22,955. The estimated benefit to the Shetland economy is calculated at around £2.4 million pounds per year.
Alastair Cooper chairs Shetland Islands Council's Development Committee: “This is a great opportunity for us to develop our support for some of Shetland’s most distinctive and unique industries. There’s been an increase in recent years in the number of new companies working in areas such as textile design, photography, furniture-making, craftwork and video production, and basing such a unit here in Shetland could help create and develop such home-grown companies, as well as attract interest from farther afield. There are also the commercial and cultural benefits which would accrue from the influx of staff and new students, and the potential to build an international reputation as a creative centre.”
Drew Ratter is chair of the Shetland College UHI board and a member of the University of the Highlands and Islands Court: “It’s estimated that the creative industries bring in around £2.5 billion every year to the Scottish economy and this development will see the Highlands and Islands - and Shetland - taking a leading role in developing and benefitting from a growing sector. We are better fitted to supporting this Chair than, I think, anywhere else in the network. The appointment of the Chair will be an incredibly important one. It is a UHI appointment, of course, but as a Member of the University Court, I will strive to stay very close to that process.”