Alan Cumming to head fundraising drive for NTS HQ

Actor Alan Cumming. Picture: Getty

Actor Alan Cumming. Picture: Getty

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HOLLYWOOD actor Alan Cumming is to spearhead a fundraising campaign to help deliver a new multi-million-pound base where the next generation of Scottish acting and theatre talents can be nurtured and developed.

The Perthshire-born actor has agreed to front a near £2 million drive to transform an old “cash and carry” warehouse in Glasgow into a powerhouse for performers, writers, directors and designers.

An artists' impressions of the new creative headquarters

An artists' impressions of the new creative headquarters

A permanent headquarters for the National Theatre of Scotland will be created on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal by next summer if the campaign, which is being officially launched tonight, is successful.

Space will be made available to other independent theatre companies and artists in the 40,000 sq ft building.

Boasting one of the biggest theatrical rehearsal spaces in the country, as well as huge costume-making, scenery-building and production workshops, it is expected to be used by around 3000 people every year.

Cumming, a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, says he believes the new complex can help “unlock Scotland’s creative potential for years to come.”

An artists' impressions of the new NTS'' headquarters

An artists' impressions of the new NTS'' headquarters

NTS has already raised £1m in private donations ahead of the public appeal. It plans to unveil its new home, which will be called Rockvilla in recognition of the area’s quarrying history, next summer to coincide with its 10th anniversary.

Plans for the company to move into the warehouse in the Speirs Wharf area were first revealed in January 2013.

The overall cost of the project, which the Scottish Government has pledged £2 million towards, has risen by almost a million pounds by then, to £6.45 million.

Although ministers have agreed to provide a loan to allow building work to get underway next month, the company plans to bridge a £1.9 million gap with a fundraising drive over the next few months to avoid the project impact on its core work.

The campaign, which will see donors recognised in a new artwork of a map of Scotland being created for the building, will kick-started at a star-studded reception in Glasgow tonight.

Among those lending their backing will be Taggart star Blythe Duff, who will be reviving her roles in The James Plays when NTS take them on a world tour next year, Still Game star Greg Hemphill, who appeared in the company’s hit play inspired by The Wicker Man film. Star Wars favourite Ian McDiarmid, who adapted and starred in a stage version of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel Be Near Me, and Deacon Blue star Lorraine McIntosh, whose NTS roles include the boxing drama Beautiful Burnout.

Cumming’s voiceover for the film says: “This is not a venue. It’s an engine room for Scottish theatre. And its creative potential is infinite.

“With four state-of-the-art rehearsal rooms, a dedicated space for education and outreach work, and numerous places for individual artists and companies to work we will be able to offer a facility that Scottish theatre has never had before.

“It’s a place where we will break down the barriers to the arts for people from some of our hardest to reach communities; where schools can come to learn about the technical aspects of theatre; and where emerging writers, directors and actors will work side by side with some of the most talented artists working today.”

The actor added: “We have the chance here to unlock Scotland’s creative potential for years to come and to ensure that there is always a next generation ready to make unforgettable theatre for Scotland and beyond.”

Laurie Sansom, NTS’s artistic director, said: “For the first time ever, we have the opportunity to create a space where we can bring together our company, our collaborators and all of our communities.

“It will be a place of imagination, learning and play, not just for the National Theatre of Scotland but for the entire nation.

“We’re already 70 per cent of the way towards our target. Now, every pound we raise will reduce our on-going costs so that more of our funding can go directly into creating new work, developing new talent and engaging communities.

“It’s a hugely exciting project and we’re looking forward to people from across Scotland joining us on this journey.”

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