THE main cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands is being wound up after a financial collapse.
• It has blamed shake-ups in the way funds are distributed by its two principal backers for the move
• It emerged in April that the organisation’s future had been plunged into doubt
Hi-Arts, an Inverness-based outfit, with staff in Argyll, Knoydart, Skye, Lewis and Aberdeenshire, is to go into liquidation after effectively running out of money to keep operating.
It has blamed shake-ups in the way funds are distributed by its two principal backers, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland, for the move.
It emerged in April that the organisation’s future had been plunged into doubt and its 10 staff were facing redundancy due to a cash crisis caused by the ending of long-term financial agreements.
Hi-Arts was set up 23 years ago by HIE and helped set up the Screen Machine mobile cinema, The Booth online box office, and an online arts journal for the Highlands.
Its board members included Joe Gibbs, organiser of the Belladrum music festival, architect Neil Sutherland, Donna Heddle, head of cultural studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Kathleen Boal, a senior official at the National Trust for Scotland.
A statement issued by the board said it had decided to appoint accountants to wind up the company and appoint a liquidator.
It added: “Both HIE and Creative Scotland provided transition funding for HI~Arts for the financial year 2012/13, but subsequent strategic and structural changes in both organisations have meant that past funding arrangements would not be continued beyond the first quarter of 2013/14.
“During 2012/13 the board and staff thoroughly examined the potential for restructuring the company on a more commercial basis, which followed on from several years of preparation to compete for the renewal of existing contracts, but concluded that, given the company’s continuing obligations and the non-availability of appropriate contracts for tender, this model was not viable.”
A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: “We are aware this has been a difficult time for the staff of HI~Arts and the board has made this decision after careful consideration.
“We recognise the significant impact HI~Arts has made on the development of the arts infrastructure in the Highlands and Islands over the 20 years.
“Within that time, the arts scene has changed considerably and the infrastructure, parts of which had been developed by HI~Arts, are now free-standing and networks have become increasingly connected.
“Following discussions over several months, Creative Scotland and HIE worked with HI~Arts to consider alternative business models in order to support a future for the agency’s work within the changing Highlands and Islands arts and cultural environment.
“To these ends the agency received £90,000 for the year 2012/13 to help it in its transition to a new business model based on securing contracts for work from a number of sources. It is regrettable that, to date, that model has not proved deliverable.”