Scottish Youth Theatre set to close

After 40 years, Scottish Youth Theatre – whose former performers include Kate Dickie and Karen Gillan – is to close after losing out on a regular funding award from Creative Scotland

Article by Jamie Dunn | 08 Mar 2018
  • Scottish Youth Theatre

The fallout from Creative Scotland’s recent round of Regular Funding awards continues, as Scottish Youth Theatre has announced it will come to a close after failing to secure funding in Creative Scotland’s recent awards round. The RFO funding that the Youth Theatre applied for represents around a third of their income, and the Glasgow-based organisation see no way of filling that gap.

“After 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,” said the Scottish Youth Theatre. “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 31 July 2018.”

Scottish Youth Theatre has operated for over 40 years, and has been the training ground for future acting talent like Kate Dickie, Karen Gillan and Gerard Butler. The irony that the company will cease trading in the year that’s been branded the “Year of Young People” is lost on no one.

Creative Scotland have responded to the news in a statement, saying: “We are disappointed to learn of Scottish Youth Theatre’s plans to cease trading later this year,” but also defending their decision not to award the Scottish Youth Theatre, while suggesting there are alternative funding options.

“Scottish Youth Theatre applied for Regular Funding for 2018-21, however, in a competitive process and within the limits of funds available, we were not able to support them through this funding route, but have been in discussions with them regarding alternative routes to support," said the funding body.  "Creative Scotland is 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.

"Creative Scotland also provides extensive support for arts and young people through Open Project Funding and through multi-million pound Targeted Funding programmes such as the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) and CashBack for Creativity."

Scottish Youth Theatre's chief source of funding for the last three years was direct from the Scottish Government. In a statement, the Scottish Government have urged the theatre and Creative Scotland to find a funding solution: "The decisions about which organisations receive Regular Funding is for Creative Scotland and not for the Scottish Government, and we would encourage SYT to keep talking to Creative Scotland about other potential sources of funding."

Creative Scotland have already made some U-turns on some Regular Funding Awards, reinstating long-term funding to five arts organisations including theatre companies Catherine Wheels and Birds of Paradise after public reaction, so there is hope that Scottish Youth Theatre can have a similar reprieve.