DCSIMG

SAC’s founding role should be applauded

With the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) no longer in existence, it is a mystery as to why influential and supposedly well-informed people such as Paul Scott (Perspective, 26 
December) continue to emphasise personal anecdotes about the council’s mythical opposition to a Scottish National Theatre.

There might well have been a time – and for good reasons in times of scarce resource, I’m sure – as to why this was the case. However, during my tenure as SAC chief executive – during which the National Theatre was formed (100 per cent Scottish by the way) – the pressure for a National Theatre was channelled through the Arts Council.

There were several occasions, unpublicised, when I was offered some resource to establish the much-sought after body, but having commissioned a study with the backing of the Scottish theatre sector, which indicated a preferred model and a required level of funding, both to enhance the existing sector and to properly found a National Theatre Scotland would be proud of, I refused until the sought-after sum was offered in full.

This very point was discussed at length on many occasions by me with successive ministers. The vibrancy of theatre in Scotland and the undoubted success of the National Theatre is a result of the very able practitioners, actors, designers, producers and directors.

It is fashionable to play to the gallery and decry the legacy of the SAC, but its part in founding the National Theatre, commissioning reviews, agreeing the desired model, negotiating with ministers, obtaining the resources, bringing the theatre sector together, deserves to be 
acknowledged.

Mr Scott has never had 
the courtesy to approach 
me to obtain any factual information on the founding of the National Theatre, I await his call.

Graham Berry

Chief executive of the Scottish Arts Council 
2002-2007

 

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