Date: 28 June 2006
Parliamentary Committee calls for answers from Scottish Arts
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
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
"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)