Scottish Youth Theatre to close in July following funding knock-back

Scottish Youth Theatre's ForbIDden. Photo: Robin Mitchell Scottish Youth Theatre's ForbIDden. Photo: Robin Mitchell
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Scottish Youth Theatre is to close at the end of July after failing to secure funding in the latest round from Creative Scotland.

SYT is one of Scotland’s national youth performing arts companies and its former students include Karen Gillan and Douglas Henshall. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017 when it set up a national youth ensemble.

The company was previously in receipt of £400,000 from the Scottish government, but was not one of Creative Scotland’s regularly funded organisations for 2015 to 2018. It had applied to become a regularly funded company in the 2018 to 2021 period.

SYT’s closure comes as Creative Scotland designates 2018 the Year of Young People in Scotland.

It said the lack of funding equated to “around a third” of the income required for it to continue trading.

The news was broken in a statement posted on the SYT website by its chief executive, Jacky Hardacre.

She says: “After [receiving] the news from Creative Scotland, we have worked on many business models, a variety of cost-cutting exercises and discussed how we can better collaborate to share costs and resources with like-minded organisations.

“However, sadly, without a realistic expectation that we would be successful in securing financial support in such a limited time to meet the significant funding gap, we are left with no other realistic option but to cease trading on July 31, 2018.”

Responding to the news, Joan McAlpine, chair of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture committee, described the situation as “serious”, pointing out that Creative Scotland had admitted its process for selecting Regularly Funded Organisations was “flawed” in evidence to the committee in February.

Writing on Facebook, she said: “SYT develops our most talented young people. That is widely understood in Scotland. But Creative Scotland think they aren’t good enough. Something wrong here.”

Creative Scotland said it was “fully committed to supporting access to creativity for young people through the organisations we fund across Scotland”.

“Youth arts are well represented in the network of Regularly Funded Organisations, with more than 80% of them including work with or for children and young people as a key part of their future plans, including as decision makers,” it added.