Leading theatre company to close in wake of Creative Scotland funding blow

Coriolanus Vanishes was one of artistic director David Leddy's most acclaimed productions with theatre company Fire Exit.
Coriolanus Vanishes was one of artistic director David Leddy's most acclaimed productions with theatre company Fire Exit.
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One of Scotland's leading theatre company has announced its closure - a year after suffering a 100 per cent funding cuts by the national arts quango.

Fire Exit will be wound up next month after artistic director David Leddy vowed to call an end to his theatre career in protest at his treatment by Creative Scotland.

The Glasgow-based company said it was left with "no choice" but to close down after 17 years.

It was one of 20 organisations and companies to be stripped of long-term support from Creative Scotland in a hugely controversial funding shake-up unveiled by the arts organisation last January. Five were given a reprieve after an outcry and an intervention from Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Siobhan Redmond, Blythe Duff, Maureen Beattie, Sean Biggerstaff and Phyllis Logan were among the leading actors to call for a reprieve for the company, along with the writers Stephen Greenhorn, Liz Lochhead, Rona Munro, Alan Bissett and Jo Clifford.

Its best-known works include Sub Rosa, Untited Love Story, City of the Blind and Coriolanus Vaniches.

Mr Leddy was one of the most outspoken critics of the quango, accusing it of being "unethical, unrigorous and unfit for purpose" in its decision-making. The company claimed it was told it had been recommended for approval in the funding process, only to find the recommendation had been over-turned.

A statement announcing the close of the company said it had still not been given an explanation as it why its funding was removed.

It added: "The company’s final production was a double-award winning, sold-out remount of Coriolanus Vanishes at the Traverse theatre during Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2018. The final night of the run received the last of many standing ovations.

"The company’s 12 months of ‘transition’ funding ran out on 1 April 2019. Thus it has no choice but to close. David Leddy plans to stop working in theatre and pursue a new career."

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: "We are disappointed to learn of developments at Fire Exit.

The organisation applied for regular funding for 2018-21, however, in a competitive process and within the limits of funds available, we were unable to support them through this funding route.

"We met with Fire Exit who received transition funding through to April 2019 to provide them with time and resource to explore other funding options including our open project fund and our touring fund, which was launched in 2018.”