Closing youth theatre would ‘jeopardise’ flagship government programme, MSP says

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The planned closure of Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) would “jeopardise” the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People, MSPs have heard.

The theatre, whose alumni include stars such as Gerard Butler and Karen Gillan, announced last week it will close in summer after losing out on Creative Scotland funding.

Childcare and Early Years Minister Maree Todd faced questions on the closure at Holyrood.

Conservative Rachael Hamilton said the closure “stands to jeopardise” the Year of Young People, which includes an objective to allow young people to express themselves through culture.

She said: “How will the Scottish Government ensure that the decisions made with regards to the Scottish Youth Theatre promote, and not jeopardise, the objectives and ambitions of the Year of Young People?”

Labour’s Claire Baker highlighted a petition to prevent closure has gathered more than 37,000 signatures and asked Ms Todd to examine giving the theatre national status, enabling it to receive direct Scottish Government funding.

The Minister said Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is due to meet SYT members later this week and conferring national status is “likely” to be one of the options under discussion.

She stressed Creative Scotland is at arm’s length from the government and officials are legally barred from interfering in their funding decisions.

“We recognise the potential closure of Scottish Youth Theatre is of concern to many people, including right across this chamber,” she added.

“That’s why we’re exploring all the options available with the theatre and Creative Scotland.

“Difficult decisions just can’t be completely escaped though but we are absolutely determined to look at all options to protect, if we can, the work that Scottish Youth Theatre does, and to support as far as we can a healthy, vibrant culture sector right across Scotland in this year, the Year of Young People, and beyond.”

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