SYT could become national company to avoid closure

Scotland's art quango is still trying to deal with the fallout from axing funding for the Scottish Youth Theatre, risking its closure
Scotland's art quango is still trying to deal with the fallout from axing funding for the Scottish Youth Theatre, risking its closure
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The closure-threatened Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) could adopt a new legal status which would allow it to gain funding directly from the Scottish Government, its chief executive has said.

Jacky Hardacre, head of the SYT, which has warned it will close this summer after failing to acquire funding from Creative Scotland, said it could apply for “national company” status, which would give it the same rights as organisations such as the National Theatre of Scotland.

However, speaking in a TV interview yesterday, Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer suggested that the SYT could still apply for alternative “project funding” from the national arts organisation.

The youth theatre, which costs £600,000 a year to run and counts actors including Gerard Butler, Kate Dickie and Karen Gillan among its alumni, said it will have to close at the end of July after Creative Scotland’s rejection of its funding application left it facing a gap of around a third of its required income.

Ms Hardacre told BBC Scotland that the youth theatre had been required to make its funding application a year in advance, at a time when it was making big changes. “We were still on a journey of change and we’ve implemented a lot of the planned changes since we put that bid in, but we’ve been judged on where we were 12 months ago,” she said.

But she said applying for the different status could create “opportunities” for the organisation.

“I really believe that status opens new doors and we’re interested in whatever those opportunities are,” she said. “We’re not looking for just a simple handout, we want to be strategic about this.

“We’ve still got a bit of a way to go to earn that title but we’re absolutely up and ready for that.”

Other organisations which are ranked as “national companies” include Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.

Ms Archer refused to comment on the idea, but said that SYT could apply for alternative funding with Creative Scotland.

She said: “We’ve been talking to Scottish Youth Theatre about other options in terms of Creative Scotland funding and will continue to do that. It’s accepted that the regular funding decisions have been made so we’re talking to them about project funding.

“We’re only able to fund one in three applications that come in but there is still that possilbity that SYT could come into open project funding and still be successful.

“We hope very much they won’t [have to close down].”