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Date: 28 June 2006

Parliamentary Committee calls for answers from Scottish Arts Council

In an unprecedented step, the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee will meet in a special meeting today to quiz representatives of the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) on their decision to withdraw funds from 7:84 theatre Company, Borderline Theatre and a number of other groups. This decision was taken by the Committee at their recent meeting when they discussed the 1700 signature petition from 7:84.

The Committee meeting will be at 10.00am today (Weds 28 June) in Committee Room 2 of the Scottish Parliament. The Arts Council will be represented by Jim Tough, their Depute Director. Cathy Peattie MSP, Chair of the Cross-Party group on Culture and the Media, who presented the 7:84 petition to the Committee and called on the SAC to rethink its decision and on the Scottish Executive to act urgently to prevent its closure.

The petition gained support across the political spectrum and led to the committee's request to the SAC to come to a special meeting to be asked about the reasons for their decisions.

Chris Bartter, Chair of the 7:84 Board, said "We are delighted that the Committee has been successful in getting the SAC to appear before them to answer questions about their decisions. We were especially pleased at the unanimity of the support for 7:84 the last time they discussed the issue, and we look forward to the SAC arguments being tested in an open committee debate."

7:84 tours productions that entertain audiences and challenge the establishment around the country, bringing theatre to venues and audiences that do not otherwise get access to drama. They develop new work with new writers and directors, and also work with disadvantaged groups in ground-breaking outreach work - allowing these groups to find their voice and articulate their issues to politicians.

This is all work that will be put at risk unless urgent action is taken to find a solution to the cut in funding.

Cathy Peattie MSP, said "The Scottish Executive need to address this system of funding that discriminates against companies like 7:84, who have a national remit and are committed to increasing access to the arts. I was pleased that their petition received such support, and am looking forward to raising many questions with the Arts Council."

Support for the company has come from prominent Scottish performers like Dave Anderson, actor, songwriter and musician star of TV show City Lights, and 7:84's last production Freefall. He said "The country doesn't need this kind of arbiter, un-elected and un-accountable, with a notion of "excellence" that means hee-haw in Govan. What we need is investment in the touring theatre circuit, before the Scottish Arts Council totally decimates it, in the name of "excellence".

"We need to stimulate the kind of work that makes sense in the communities, before there are no gigs left, before the theatre becomes once again exclusively high-brow, and, for people like me, boring. Support 7:84!"

And from people like Darren Stewart, a 7:84 outreach participant from Castlemilk in Glasgow. He said "I've been involved in 7:84 since 2001 when I was part of the Belonging project. Before this I had done nothing in the field of acting. After this I have been very busy acting both on stage and TV but mostly with 7:84 on projects that are more meaningful to me as a person and issues that people face in today's society. 7:84 have given me confidence, friendship and most of all it's taught me to respect myself, others and what I believe in."


For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Chair - 7:84 Board) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m) Dave Anderson (Actor, Singer, Songwriter) 07967 129 732(m) Dave Smith (Cathy Peattie's office) 0131 348 5746(o)