If you follow the arts at all, then you will probably have heard about the problems currently faced by the Scottish Youth Theatre. Like most arts organizations, they rely on public funding to keep going- especially since they mainly act as a training ground for the next generation of Scottish actors and actresses. In the last week, though, their whole existence has been put under threat, as Creative Scotland – who decide where the government’s arts funding ends up- announced that they would be pulling a third of the money given to the SYT. That’s a serious blow for any organization, but to the them, it means the difference between survival and going under. Just days after this news, in fact, the SYT announced that they would have to shut down completely at the end of July if their funding isn’t restored. There’s been no response from Creative Scotland yet- but luckily for the young actors and actresses of Scotland, something is being done to help.
Many people are outraged that such an important part of Scotland’s cultural landscape has been put under threat – us included. It’s so important that organizations like the Scottish Youth Theatre receive public funding, so that they can continue to provide future generations of young actors and actresses from all backgrounds with a place to develop their talents. However, the government is always looking at ways they can cut spending, and the arts are often viewed as a soft target. While Creative Scotland are only officially withdrawing a third of the SYT’s funding, they know that in practise, this will mean that they simply can’t carry on- which then frees up the other two-thirds of their existing money to be spent elsewhere. Smaller cuts could potentially be justified, but when such a significant amount is on the line, the decision makers aren’t just taking money away- they are cutting the Scottish Youth Theatre’s life support completely.
Right now, the Scottish Youth Theatre is preparing their summer ensemble tour. The funding cuts would have meant that this couldn’t go ahead, but we couldn’t sit by and let that happen. Debt Free Life’s parent company, Richmond Oaks, has put up half the money to fund the tour, so that at least their current projects can be seen through to the end, and all the hard work of the SYT won’t go to waste. However, that’s only a short-term solution, since it costs a huge amount of money to keep the organization running throughout the year. Their only real option, other than shutting down, is to convince the government to change their minds and restore that vital funding. Fortunately, there is a petition going around that aims to do just that- and it has already attracted almost 40,000 signatures. We’re encouraging everyone to add their voice to this cause, too, and show the government how important the Scottish Youth Theatre really is to the people of Scotland.
Why We Care
At Debt Free Life, we understand how hard life when you don’t have enough money to get by. If you never come into contact with people in tough financial situations, then it’s easy to just ignore the problem altogether. As a debt management company, though, we come face to face with individuals and families in this very situation on a daily basis. In many cases, it’s through no fault of their own- life can be very expensive nowadays, and it can be extremely difficult for many people to get by on their own. There is someone in need virtually everywhere you turn- from the record number of homeless people on Scotland’s streets, to the children who would never get a hot meal if it wasn’t for free school dinners. Debt management helps some people, but there are plenty more out there who live in poverty simply because they were born into it- and we want to do all we can to help those people, too.
That’s why the Scottish Youth Theatre is a cause that’s so close to our hearts. Rather than making the arts something that’s only accessible to those who are well off, the SYT is open to all, no matter what their background. Many of their students come from disadvantaged homes, and if it wasn’t for this organization, they wouldn’t have any outlet for their talents. Not only does it open their eyes to the world beyond the breadline, and the opportunities that they can make for themselves, but also allows them to really develop as individuals. Kids who would otherwise be shy and withdrawn can come out of their shells and build their confidence, which will then have a positive effect on their entire lives. When people believe in themselves, then they can achieve so much more in their lives- and that’s the reason why we are throwing our weight behind the SYT’s cause. For over 40 years, the Scottish Youth Theatre has offered students the chance to change their lives for the better, and if they can regain their government funding, then they can provide this to future generations as well.
Help Save the Scottish Youth Theatre- It Only Takes a Click
The way that Creative Scotland has treated the SYT has been, quite frankly, disgraceful. They haven’t offered any alternatives to plug the funding gap, and instead left the Theatre to wither and die on its own. They aren’t on their own, though- and it’s time for you to do your bit to help as well. If, like us, you believe that the Scottish Youth Theatre is something worth saving, then there’s a way you can lend a hand that will only take a couple of minutes. Simply sign the petition to save the SYT, and let the government know that people aren’t going to take their decision lying down. If we all pull together, we can help the SYT to secure the public funding they need to continue with their excellent work, and ensure that theatre remains something that everyone can get involved with.