You might have seen in the news that the arts in Scotland are under threat- and one of the biggest creative outlets for young people looks set to go under as a result. Creative Scotland, the government organization that deals with arts funding, has announced that the Scottish Youth Theatre is to have a third of its funding axed, without making much of a claim for their actions. Since the organization is so reliant on this public money to keep going, this leaves them in a very difficult position- how do they plug such a huge gap in their funding? In fact, it’s such a serious problem that chief executive Jacky Hardacre announced that if they don’t find an alternative source of income, they will have “no realistic option” but to shut down completely later on this year.
While things are looking desperate right now, all hope is not lost. Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition demanding that the government rethinks its decision, and gives the SYT the funding that it so desperately needs. At Soapbox Digital, we couldn’t agree more with those people- in fact, the struggle of the Scottish Youth Theatre is something very close to our hearts. That’s because one of our most prominent clients, Richmond Oaks, have thrown their weight behind the Theatre’s cause. Without their crucial funding, the Scottish Youth Theatre’s summer ensemble tour wouldn’t have been possible. They are quite rightly outraged that such an important part of Scotland’s cultural landscape is under threat, and they are doing all they can to help the SYT make it through these tough times, instead of allowing it to go under.
Nowadays, few of us stop to really look at the world around us. We’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, and there are thousands upon thousands of children in our country living in poverty. Yet most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to pay any notice to these issues, which only ends up making things worse. Richmond Oaks and their trading style, Debt Free Life, though, are different. They deal with individuals and families in difficult circumstances on a daily basis, which in many cases are due to no fault of their own. Rather than sit back and watch other people struggle, they help those families to rebuild their lives and find the right path forward. Not only that, but they’ve made it their mission to reach out to those in need, across all walks of life.
That’s why they have taken such an interest in the Scottish Youth Theatre. As we touched on earlier, the SYT is set to cease operations at the end of July, after their summer ensemble tour. In fact, even that tour wouldn’t have been possible without Richmond Oaks, since they are co-funding it along with another organization. At Soapbox, we are extremely proud that one of our clients is doing something so selfless, and at the very least buying the Scottish Youth Theatre some extra time. All too often, companies only reach into their pockets when there’s a direct benefit to themselves. That’s not the case here- instead, it’s the young people for whom the SYT means so much that will gain from the actions of Richmond Oakes.
Over the last 41 years, the Scottish Youth Theatre has been a key part of the country’s cultural landscape. International stars like Karen Gillan, Alan Cumming, and Gerard Butler got their start here, and many of them have become patrons of the organization. However, aside from the glitz and glamour of global stardom, the SYT has offered so much more to the young people of Scotland. It provides children and teens from all backgrounds with opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have, and gives them an outlet for their talent. The fact that so many big names have come out of the SYT just goes to show what important work they do, but for every one of those, there are dozens more who benefitted just as much. Theatre is a way for young people to grow and develop as individuals, and really boost their confidence by performing in front of others.
Richmond Oaks’ donation is only a temporary fix, though. To keep the Scottish Youth Theatre running in the long-term, then they need to regain that public funding which has so ruthlessly been cut. If you don’t want Scotland’s young actors and actresses to be deprived of such a vital lifeline, then there’s a simple way for you to help out. Take a minute or two to sign the petition, and you can add your voice to the crowd and show the Scottish government that this is an issue that really matters. Almost 40,000 people have already signed, and the more who do so, the greater the message it will send to Creative Scotland. If we all join together, then we can ensure that future generations will be guaranteed an outlet for their talents – so make sure you do your bit to make this vision a reality.
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