It is with deep regret that I have to write this letter, but as a founder member and artistic director of Raindog Theatre Company, I feel compelled to express my views on recent events.
The company has issued a statement announcing that it is to cease its activities. This is as a result of its failure to secure fixed-term funding for the next two years, and on advice from officers of the Scottish Arts Council that its work was un-likely to attract funding from any other scheme.
Raindog has consistently sought to produce thought-provoking and dynamic theatre over the last ten years. Raindog was also one of the first established theatre companies to have formed its own youth theatre, Young Blood, as a way of involving young people in plays and creating work in theatre in education. This has proved to be incredibly successful.
I am angry and frustrated that now, 15 shows later, this action has to be taken. Raindog has been a vibrant contributor to the Scottish theatre scene, and it seems the powers that be in the SAC disagree.
Raindog was the first theatre company to be taken onto the National Lottery Advancement fund, a scheme administered by the SAC to allow companies to stabilise and give them a stronger structure for the future. Having just successfully completed this process however, being on this scheme does not guarantee funding from the various committees within the SAC, and it now means our advancement has been effectively terminated.
The SAC’s funding policies have no clear cohesion and long-term future support for companies is an objective it seems unwilling to commit to. Rather, the truth of the matter is that those who are not building based or receive revenue funding are left to stumble on from project to project.
The problem, of course, is that we live in a country that holds little stock in its artists. Under the new Scottish executive we have seen no major commitment to enhance or improve our theatre community. What incentive is there for artists to stay in Scotland?
We cannot bemoan the talent drain down south and do nothing to tempt people to stay. Companies are going to the wall because of a lack of coherent and radical approach to arts funding in this country.
We continue to argue about a Scottish National Theatre. This seems particularly foolhardy to me at a time when we cannot support the infrastructure we already have. Indeed, if our other national companies are an example of what can be achieved, then it would seem to be an incredibly ignorant thing to do. Unless, of course, the SAC is happy to bail out another large organisation that can’t manage its own affairs.
Raindog will, of course, survive through its work in television and film, but it saddens me to cease our theatre activities.
We have always sought to push theatre beyond its expectations, and I know from the hundreds of letters of support and critical acclaim over the years that Raindog does have an audience which has been moved and inspired.
This is not a unique accomplishment. Many others have done likewise; but it is a depressing picture if, at the moment, other long-established companies and ourselves are facing their demise.
St Vincent Place