Scotland politics

SNP conference: Alex Salmond unveils Scottish Youth Theatre funds

Scottish Youth Theatre Image copyright Scottish Youth Theatre
Image caption The Scottish Youth Theatre has welcomed the funding announcement

The Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) is to benefit from a £1m funding package over the next three years to help secure its future, Alex Salmond has confirmed.

The theatre company had faced an uncertain future after losing its Creative Scotland funding last month.

Mr Salmond made the announcement at the SNP conference in Perth during his last major speech as first minister.

The Scottish government will provide £750,000, with a further £250,000 from the Clyde Blowers company.

A proportion of the £1m package will also go to help support the National Youth Choir of Scotland, YDance and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Mr Salmond told delegates at the SNP conference in Perth that he had watched an excerpt of an SYT production called Now's The Hour during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

'True stars'

The play involved youngsters imagining and reading letters written today to their future selves about the decisions that Scotland was to make this year.

Image copyright Scottish Youth Theatre
Image caption Mr Salmond met members of the Scottish Youth Theatre earlier this year

Mr Salmond said: "I only saw an excerpt but that play touched the very essence of what this year has been about - indeed it touched the very heart of what Scotland is now about .

"And in another play, Tin Forest, they included 90 performers from 10 Commonwealth countries. In our glittering games the Scottish Youth Theatre were one of the true stars of the show.

"Now the Youth Theatre is in financial difficulty and we cannot in conscience have that, indeed I just won't have that.

"And therefore I am delighted to announce that, working with Creative Scotland and with generous private sector support from one of our greatest companies Clyde Blowers, the Scottish government will provide £1m pounds over the next three years to secure the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre."

'Wonderful endorsement'

Earlier this week, the SYT met with Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who reiterated the Scottish government's "strong support" for the Glasgow-based theatre company, which was one of 145 funding bids which were rejected by Creative Scotland.

Responding to Mr Salmond's announcement, SYT chairman John Scott Moncrieff said it was a "wonderful endorsement" of the youth theatre company and other national youth performing arts groups.

He added: "In the build up to 2018 Year of Young People, Scottish Youth Theatre looks forward to playing a leading and inspiring role.

"Our priority is to ensure that we can continue to provide World Class theatre arts experiences for as many of Scotland's young people as possible.

"This fund will allow us to achieve that. We look forward to further fruitful and constructive meetings with Creative Scotland."

A spokesman for Creative Scotland said: "We welcome the new support included within this to help Scottish Youth Theatre strengthen its offer for young people across Scotland.

"We recognise and value the role that all the national youth arts companies play in providing access to high quality arts experiences, alongside providing an important route to a professional career in the arts.

"We will continue to work closely with them, and the broader youth arts sector, to ensure that arts and culture created for and by young people continues to flourish across all parts of Scotland."