Strengthen Shetland's Creative Sector
by Alastair Hamilton -
The appointment of a Chair in Creative Industries at the University of the Highlands and Islands" Shetland campus is expected to bring major benefits.
What are now known as creative industries have long been integral to Shetland's economy. The islands are well known for knitwear and fine lace, in particular. However, many new kinds of creative enterprise have become established over recent years and it's believed that the new professorial post will further strengthen the sector. Funding is being sought from several agencies.
Shetland Islands Council has already agreed to contribute to the cost and Alastair Cooper, who chairs its Development Committee, said:
“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.”
Dr Neil Simco, Dean of Arts, Humanities and Business at the University of the Highlands and Islands, added that the new Chair would 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.
Councillor Drew Ratter, a member of the University of the Highlands and Islands Court, pointed out that the creative industries bring in around £2.5 billion every year to the Scottish economy. He felt that Shetland was “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.”