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Scottish Youth Theatre could be saved from closure

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Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer said the youth theatre would be able to apply for alternative funding

The boss of Scotland’s arts agency has said it may be able to help save the Scottish Youth Theatre from shutting under an alternative funding plan.

The theatre has announced its immanent closure, after failing to secure regular funding from Creative Scotland.

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer told the BBC it was “possible” the theatre could make up the shortfall through project funding applications.

The youth theatre has been working on a plan to win direct government funding.

The Glasgow-based organisation, which has been running for more than 40 years, has helped shape the careers of international stars like Karen Gillan, Kate Dickie and Gerard Butler.

The funding decision by Creative Scotland means the Scottish Youth Theatre, which costs £600,000 a year to run, has a funding gap for 2018-21 amounting to a third of its required income.

Ms Archer told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme the youth theatre was one of more than 180 organisations which applied for three-year “regular funding” from a pot of £33m.

She said Creative Scotland was not able to fund them all, and that awards were based on merit.

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Scottish Youth Theatre

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The Scottish Youth Theatre was founded in December 1976

But she said the youth theatre could apply for “project funding” of up to two years at any time.

Ms Archer said it amounted to £100,000 per project, or £150,000 with special permission, and organisations can apply for more than one project.

“Not many, but some organisations have managed to work project funding in a way that helps them to be more flexible to respond to opportunities as they arise,” she said.

Asked if this could plug the youth theatre’s £200,000 shortfall, Ms Archer added: “That’s possible.

“My staff will always say it’s under huge pressure, so we’re only able to fund one in three of the applications that come in.

“But there is a possibility that Scottish Youth Theatre could come into open project funding and be successful.”

Ms Archer said she was “disappointed” when the theatre announced it would have to close in the summer, because Creative Scotland had been in talks with the organisation at the time about an alternative funding plan.

Meanwhile, Scottish Youth Theatre chief executive Jacky Hardacre said she was working on a seperate plan to win “national company” status for the organisation.

This would put it on the same level as the likes of the National Theatre of Scotland, meaning funding would come directly from the Scottish government.

That would be a decision for ministers.

SYT helped shape me

Actress Kate Dickie

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Universal Pictures

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Kate Dickie, pictured in 2015 movie The Witch, gained confidence from working with the SYT

East Kilbride-born Kate Dickie believes her time with the Scottish Youth Theatre was pivotal in shaping her career.

The actress, who is best known for her roles as Lysa Arryn in TV blockbuster Game of Thrones and Jackie in the movie Red Road, said: “I’d wanted to be an actress for years. SYT brought me into a world where I realised that this could be a career.

“I feel we have to fight to keep SYT going. It’s something unique to our country in bringing kids and young people from all over together, not just for acting but directing and writing.

“My teen years were spent in Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway.

“It can feel like a pipe dream living in a small town wanting to be an actor, but SYT just gave it a concrete feeling that I’m going to be determined that this is what I’m going to do.”

Ms Hardacre said the move could also bring in new support from corporate backers, trusts and foundations.

“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.”

Ms Hardacre also said people were pledging money to keep the theatre open.

They include entrepreneur Alan Harty, who has put up the cash to allow the youth theatre’s National Ensemble to tour in the summer.

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