The success of the St Kilda Opera in 2007 raised international awareness of St Kilda, drew £1m into the Hebridean economy, and won a Scottish Event of the Year Award. A key legacy element of the opera project was the concept of a St Kilda Centre, and Proiseact Nan Ealan (The Gaelic Arts Agency) circulated a Discussion Paper among potential stakeholders to stimulate debate. In 2008 Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar (the Western Isles Council) established a St Kilda Centre Working Group with representation from CNES, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Visit Scotland and PNE. The remit of the Working Group was ‘to progress proposals for a Visitor/ Interpretation Centre to celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of St Kilda.’ The Centre was conceived of as a remote-access facility because problems of physical access as well as environmental concerns make it practical and undesirable to base such a centre on the island itself.
A competition was held among several island communities, and a’ Gheodha Sgoilt, Mangurstadh, was chosen as the preferred location for the Centre. The Ionad Hiort Development Group was established to make the Centre a reality.