Nicola Sturgeon to explore 'all options' to keep Scottish Youth Theatre open


The First Minister has said the government will explore "all options" to keep the Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) running after it failed to secure regular funding from Creative Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon was urged to intervene to prevent the closure of the arts organisation during First Minister's Questions at Holyrood.

SYT has said it will be forced to cease trading in July due to a funding gap amounting to around a third of its required income.

Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said the lives of people across Scotland had been "enriched and transformed" by the experience of attending SYT.

He said he accepted that the Scottish Government could not instruct Creative Scotland but added that ministers had a "direct responsibility" for a national asset like the theatre group.

Staff and young people deserved some good news and confidence about the organisation's future, he added.

Mr Harvie said: "This year is being billed as the year of young people. Are we really going to let Scottish Youth Theatre close?"

He was joined by SNP MSP Sandra White, who said the decision had been a "very big slap and a kick in the teeth" for SYT, and it was "absolutely essential" it was allowed to continue.

Ms Sturgeon said that she had a "lot of sympathy" with the views expressed by MSPs.

"Scottish Youth Theatre do fantastic work and I think it would be the desire of all of us to see them able to continue to do that," she said.

The First Minister highlighted that decisions about funding were for Creative Scotland and legally the Scottish Government was unable to intervene.

She added: "That said, the announcement by the Scottish Youth Theatre ... is of serious concern. It will be of serious concern to many people across Scotland and indeed it is to me.

"I know that Creative Scotland has approved some funding to allow the organisation to continue to operate while they hopefully work together to look at alternative routes to support and I would encourage the Scottish Youth Theatre to continue these discussions."

Ms Sturgeon said she had asked Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop to offer to meet with SYT "to see whether there is some action that the Scottish Government could be party to that would help to secure a future for the Scottish Youth Theatre".

She added: "While I can't give detail about what those options might be, today I certainly give a commitment that we will do everything we can to fully explore all options to allow young people in the future to benefit from the Scottish Youth Theatre in the way that young people in the past have done.

"There will always be difficult decisions on funding to be made and I think sometimes Creative Scotland is unfairly criticised because they have to make these decisions, but we want to make sure that theatre, and youth theatre in particular, can flourish not just in this year but generally in Scotland."

Creative Scotland has said it is "disappointed" to learn of SYT's decision, is fully committed to supporting youth arts and has been in discussions with the theatre group "regarding alternative routes to support".