Thousands back campaign for Scottish Youth Theatre to be reprieved

An open letter has been sent to culture secretary Fiona Hyslop. Picture: TSPLAn open letter has been sent to culture secretary Fiona Hyslop. Picture: TSPL
An open letter has been sent to culture secretary Fiona Hyslop. Picture: TSPL

More than 31,000 people have thrown their weight behind a petition calling for a reprieve for the closure-threatened Scottish Youth Theatre.

Arts quango Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government are set to come under mounting pressure over the weekend thanks to online campaigns taking shape.

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A separate open letter to Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop which is being circulated has warned her that the closure of the company would be “a great disservice to the people of Scotland” if it is allowed to go ahead.

It is aimed at anyone who has previously taken part in SYT programmes, which have been running since 1977.

The Help Save The Scottish Youth Theatre petition is expected to delivered to the government on Monday, when it is due to meet SYT officials to discuss their surprise closure announcement.

The company insists it has been left with “no option” but to wind up within the next few months after being rejected for long-term funding by Creative Scotland.

The petition states: “We’re saddened to hear this news, and worry not only for the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre and all those talented individuals who help run this amazing organisation, but also the children and young people who are going to suffer as a result of this decision.

“Scottish Youth Theatre has played a fundamental role in providing opportunities to children as young as three years of age, right up to 25.

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The open letter states: “While we accept that funding has always been, and will always be a difficult issue, it was hard for us not to feel frustrated and let down by the decision, ­especially as it has now led to SYT’s imminent closure.

“It has provided weekly classes, summer courses, national roadshows and touring productions that have represented Scotland on the world stage, as well as further employment opportunities within the arts, but has only ever been able to do so with funding.

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“It’s given young people a safe and secure place to express themselves and share their ideas about how they see the world and current affairs without fear of ‘mistakes’ or judgement. Allowing them this freedom of expression builds confidence in themselves and their abilities. Confidence is not always inherent. It must be nurtured and built.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs earlier this week: “We will do everything we can to fully explore all options to allow young people in the future to benefit from the Scottish Youth Theatre in the way that young people in the past have done.”