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For many years The Reel, established by international folk duo, The Wrigley Sisters, was a major cultural centre in their home town of Kirkwall. It was highly regarded as a teaching and performance venue for Orkney traditional music, enjoyed by thousands of Orkney folk and visitors alike. It had a worldwide reputation for excellence.
When The Reel was forced to close in mid-March 2020, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, all income streams stopped. Very quickly, debt began to mount, and redundancies unfortunately became unavoidable. The building was leased from Orkney Island Council (OIC) at a high commercial rent and that did not stop, meaning the rent arrears grew considerably every month.
As it became clear that there was going to be no early end to the pandemic and with live performances set to be off-limits for the foreseeable future, negotiations began with OIC regarding the money owed to them for back rent.
We requested a rent holiday back-dated to the date we stopped trading. That was rejected.
We requested a freeze on the rent from the current date. That was rejected.
We launched a public campaign to ask for support in petitioning OIC to adopt The Reel into its Arts Portfolio. That was rejected.
OIC officials recommended that we apply for a lease termination, with a possibility that it could be backdated to the date we stopped trading. That was rejected.
We requested a lease termination but asked to stay in the building on a rolling one-month lease with a peppercorn rent, until we could find another building and/or restructure the business. That too was rejected.
So, with huge regret and sorrow, The Reel is now closed, and we have permanently vacated our iconic Broad Street premises. We just could not continue to accrue high rent arrears any longer with no income. It is our sincere hope that a new Reel may emerge sometime, but unfortunately it will certainly not in the very near future.
We are hugely grateful to all those who wrote letters of support and lobbied their councillors and who signed our ‘Save The Reel’ petition and made donations to our appeal. Thank you to all of you.
The Wrigley Sisters have now incurred a significant amount of debt after years of running a wonderful, successful and hugely popular venue. Could you possibly help with that? We would be so grateful for any donations, small or (preferably) large!
If you could help, please use the 'MAKE A DONATION' button on this page, which will take you to our 'gofundme' appeal.
If you would prefer to donate by cheque please make it payable to ‘Jennifer Wrigley’ and send it to Jennifer at Fursbreck Bungalow, Harray, Orkney KW17 2JT. For alternative payment methods, e.g. BACS, Jennifer can be contacted directly on firstname.lastname@example.org