The Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST), the development body for professional dance, opera and theatre in Scotland, today warmly welcomed the announcement from Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, of a £10 million fund from the Scottish Government to help secure the future of live theatre and dance in Scotland.
Like the rest of the arts world, FST members have been hit hard by Covid-19 with international tours being cancelled from the start of the year and by all theatres and arts centres being closed mid-March to protect the public.
Throughout lockdown, FST members have stayed in touch with their audiences by streaming work, offering dance classes online and contacting vulnerable and isolated audience members to offer support.
However almost all earned income, representing around 70% of turnover across FST’s membership, has ceased and physical distancing means future income is under severe threat, prompting FST Director Jude Henderson to say, “FST has been working hard since day one to make the case for our industry. Today’s important announcement represents a fraction of the amount of the income lost to the sector this year and we look forward to working closely with Scottish Government and Creative Scotland on the next steps and phasing of this funding. We need to make sure that every pound counts as we rebuild a thriving theatre and dance sector which tells all of Scotland’s stories.”
Her sentiments were added to by Co-Chair of FST Rhona Matheson, who is also CEO of Scotland’s national arts and early years organisation, Starcatchers, when she said, “We are delighted by the scale of this investment in the future of theatre and dance in Scotland. The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund will benefit our sector ecosystem, helping to secure jobs and livelihoods wherever possible all over the country. We are particularly grateful to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture for her understanding of the challenges we face and for her work in securing this support.”
It is positive steps like this that offers real hope for the future of the arts in Scotland.