Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the recent announcement by Deputy First Minister John Swinney of £500,000 investment to MG ALBA from the Gaelic Capital Fund to develop the media village in Stornoway.
This marks the latest chapter in investment and development of the Seaforth Road cluster of creative enterprise which the Comhairle has facilitated over the past 25 years.
Since the original lease of Taigh Shìophort to Gaelic Media Services in 1993 the Comhairle has been integrally involved with developing this quarter of the town as an internationally recognised creative centre which is critical to the local economy and hosts 80 FTE jobs.
Over the past ten years the Comhairle have directly invested £1.4m and worked alongside partners including Bòrd na Gàidhlig, HIE and ERDF to create a suite of modern, Gaelic speaking workplaces designed to enable collaboration and creative synergies.
The Creative Industries Media Centre (refurbished from a derelict mill building bought by CnES in 2008) is now the headquarters of MG ALBA and home to a number of smaller media businesses.
BBC Radio nan Gàidheal are also based on site and the An Tosgan development opened in 2014 co-locating Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, Acair Ltd, the Comhairle’s own Multi-media Unit and Comunn na Gàidhlig.
Furthermore the site incorporates community radio station Isles FM and Studio Alba which the Comhairle stepped in to safeguard in 2012 and went on to be the production base for the BAFTA award-winning Katie Morag television series.
Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “The announcement of this Government funding to further enhance the creative hub on Seaforth Road is great news for the local media sector and the wider islands economy.
“It builds upon the ‘Hub’ concept the Comhairle’s Economic Development team first envisioned for the location back in 2007 and that we have been working in partnership to deliver ever since.
“We are proud to have enabled the pace of activity at the site both through capital investment and our ongoing involvement with the premises and businesses based there.”
The Scottish screen industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth and research shows that as a consequence of the Gaelic broadcasting sector the Outer Hebrides is now the fourth largest production centre in Scotland.
This advantageous position has, in part, been achieved by years of strategic investment by the Comhairle and partners who recognise the industry as a key component of the islands economy.
The Government funding announced will not only further develop training and job opportunities but it recognises the value of the Gaelic language, culture and heritage as fuel for our digital media sector and will be critical in generating the next decade of activity at Seaforth Road