New Scottish theatre base planned for Glasgow

A NEW powerhouse of Scottish theatre is to be created in Glasgow over the next year after ministers agreed to provide a significant loan to get work underway on the project.

A digitally-produced image of what the new base will look like. Picture: Contributed
A digitally-produced image of what the new base will look like. Picture: Contributed
A digitally-produced image of what the new base will look like. Picture: Contributed

The National Theatre of Scotland’s £5.8 million transformation of a run-down warehouse will create one of the nation’s biggest rehearsal spaces, along with huge costume-making, scenery-building and technical workshops.

Although the new canal-side building – which will be part of the emerging culture quarter in the north of the city – will not host of the company’s performances, hundreds of writers, directors and actors are expected to work from there in future.

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The Scottish Government has approved a loan agreement to help make up a funding shortfall of more than £2.4 million for the project, first announced two years ago and will bring all of the company’s “back-room” activity under one roof.

The government had already agreed to provide a £2m grant for the venture, work on which is now due to start in July, with an opening date pencilled in next spring for the two-storey facility, which will have 40,000sq ft of space.

Glasgow City Council has agreed a £500,000 grant, while funding is being sourced from other trusts and foundations by NTS, which is currently leasing space in four different buildings.

The new venture is being billed as a new “factory of innovation” for the Speirs Wharf area of the city, which is already home to 85 different creative organisations and businesses. Scottish Opera, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Glasgow Sculpture Studios already have substantial bases there.

Laurie Sansom, NTS artistic director, said the unveiling of the plans was a “major milestone” for the company, which has created 239 productions since its formation in 2006.

He added: “The new building really does have the potential to transform the way we work.

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“As well as being a cost-effective, sustainable operational centre for the company, it is also going to be a new facility for Scottish theatre.

“It will provide a new hub for creative, production and talent development for the sector at large.”

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Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Not only will the facility assist with new productions and work, by redeveloping a disused building the facility will help to regenerate the canal area at Speirs Wharf. The National Theatre of Scotland is renowned for world-class productions and these facilities will help create exciting new work.”

The new facility – designed by Glasgow’ Gareth Hoskins Architects – will have office space for NTS’s 43-strong full-time workforce, as well as for freelance project workers and visiting artists, writers and theatre-makers.