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Shetland Arts Organisation awarded Scottish Natural Heritage funding

Press release

Curious Pilgrims, a Shetland-based not-for-profit organisation that connects people through arts and the natural world, is one of 24 organisations to have been awarded funding by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) through the Plunge In! Coasts and Waters Community Fund that was established by SNH to help community groups across Scotland celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters.

The fund will be used by Curious Pilgrims to initiate and deliver Sonic Outreach Shetland (SO Shetland), a project that explores, celebrates and promotes Shetland’s coastal areas through sound with the use of audio technology and creative strategies. Under the artistic and technical guidance of Shetland-based sound artist Renzo Spiteri, a cohort of young people from Anderson and Brae High Schools fulfil the roles of project participants, collaborators, artistic creators and beneficiaries of this project. Through on the ground sensory-rich activities, sound mapping and artistic creation, participants discover and glean hidden sounds within Shetland’s coastal auditory ecology increasing mindful engagement with the natural world, and improving awareness and sensitivity to the coastal environment.

“We are very grateful to Scottish Natural Heritage for supporting our project which will allow participants to experience and view Shetland’s coasts and seas in new ways, increasing their awareness of and sensitivity to this special ecology, developing new skills through artistic creation and sharing acquired knowledge and experiences with friends, family and the wider community,” said Renzo Spiteri, co-founder and co-director of Curious Pilgrims.

“Throughout the past two years I spent several hours gleaning hidden, natural coastal and sea sounds around Shetland. Focusing on the sound ecology of this natural world in a hands-on fashion will undoubtedly be a very intriguing experience for our young participants. Sonic Outreach Shetland will be the point of departure of a long-term journey that will actively engage and excite new participants beyond the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.”

SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “We had a fantastic response to this fund and each of our 24 successful projects were chosen because they demonstrate just how much there is to celebrate about Scotland’s wonderful coastlines and waterways, their landscapes, biodiversity and wildlife.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Sonic Outreach Shetland progress and am sure that its creativity and enthusiasm will engage and connect more people with our coasts and waters and secure a real and lasting legacy for the themed year in the local community.”

Curious Pilgrims collaborates with creative practitioners, nature enthusiasts and organisations to create and produce a wide-range of artistic, cultural, educational and natural environment related projects, events and activities, designed to encourage public engagement and participation.

Curious Pilgrims co-founder and co-director Gaby Giacchino said: “Although Curious Pilgrims was only formally established in February 2020, we are currently running 2 projects on Shetland and we'd like to encourage creatives and organisations on Shetland and beyond to contact us to explore possibilities for initiating new collaborations.”

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