Holyrood to consider ‘national status’ for Scottish Youth Theatre

Protests continued yesterday in Glasgow over the closure threat hanging over Scottish Youth Theatre. Picture: John Devlin
Protests continued yesterday in Glasgow over the closure threat hanging over Scottish Youth Theatre. Picture: John Devlin
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The Scottish Government is to consider giving the Scottish Youth Theatre “national company” status in a move aimed at saving it from closure.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop will meet representatives from the troubled company today in an effort to find a solution to the funding shortfall which prompted it to announce its planned closure this Summer.

The theatre, whose alumni include stars such as Gerard Butler and Karen Gillan, lost out in a shake-up of the way the national arts body Creative Scotland distributes cash.

There have since been calls for the company to become a national company which would see its funding be provided directly from Scottish ministers and secure its future.

Labour’s Claire Baker highlighted a petition to prevent closure has gathered more than 37,000 signatures and asked children’s minister Maree Todd to examine giving the theatre national status, enabling it to receive direct Scottish Government funding.

Ms Todd said a meeting was held between the theatre company and government officials this week, ahead of further talks involving Ms Hyslop today.

“I’m sure that will be one of the options explored when she [Ms Hyslop] meets with the Scottish Youth Theatre.

“The case has been put for a number of years that that might be a solution going forward and the cabinet secretary is likely to explore that tomorrow.”

Ms Todd said there is always “difficult decisions” to be taken about funding.

“We recognise that the potential closure of the Scottish Youth Theatre is of concern to many people, including right across this chamber. That’s why we’re exploring all the options available with the theatre and with Creative Scotland.”

Conservative Rachael Hamilton said the closure “stands to jeopardise” the Year of Young People, which includes an objective to allow young people to express themselves through culture.

She said: “How will the Scottish Government ensure that the decisions made with regards to the Scottish Youth Theatre promote, and not jeopardise, the objectives and ambitions of the Year of Young People?”

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie called for a more permanent solution

He said: “What’s required is not just a stop-gap, not just something that lets them stumble on for a few more months, but gives them the sense of clarity that they continue with their programme of improvement, transformation and becoming a better Scottish Youth Theatre.”