Shetland's widely recognised excellence in traditional music and art could be at risk, the Educational Institute of Scotland has warned.
The union has expressed "grave concern" about possible cuts that could hit 32 travelling teachers and instructors. Peter Campbell, its local secretary, said any reduction in staffing levels would have an impact on the quality of education.
The budget for music and art is under threat after councillors rejected primary school closures as a way of making savings. The council is trying to save Pounds 5 million across all departments by 2000 and education has to cut Pounds 1 million from a Pounds 26 million budget.
Andrew Matthews, Shetland's finance director, has warned councillors that otherwise they face a cash crisis.
Mr Campbell said the success of the recent Shetland music festival, when a record 300-plus pupils entertained audiences in Lerwick, "highlighted one area where any reductions would have serious consequences". The festival was "the outcome of a great deal of effort by music staff and class teachers".