National performing companies get official status
Scotland's five national performing companies have been given official status with the aim of guaranteeing first class artistic standards.
Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the Royal National Scottish Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the National Theatre of Scotland will adopt the new status from April as a means of ensuring best value for taxpayers' money.
The Executive is taking over the Scottish Arts Council's sponsorship role in relation to the companies and has set criteria for each company to achieve high quality performance, touring, education, and outreach programmes.
Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson said:
"Our national performing companies are rightly feted for the quality of their work.
"Being officially recognised as a national performing company carries with it responsibility. The companies will have to ensure that money which they receive from the public purse is spent wisely to deliver the best artistic performance.
"I have reiterated that nothing in these new arrangements will affect the artistic independence of the national performing companies. That must not, and will not be compromised.
"This year marks the beginning of what I am sure will be a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship between the Scottish government and the national performing companies."
A spokesperson for the National Theatre of Scotland said:
"The National Theatre of Scotland warmly welcomes the Minister's granting of official status for the National Performing Companies.
"We look forward to playing a key role in the further development of Scotland's cultural landscape and to maintaining our commitment to the nation's artists and audiences."
Tom Thomson, Chairman of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra said:
"We welcome the Scottish Executive's recognition of the RSNO as Scotland's national orchestra and I warmly thank Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson for her support and guidance. The RSNO is entering an internationally acknowledged golden era under music director Stéphane Denève.
"Our ambitions for the orchestra mirror the Executive's ambitious goals for Scotland, making this funding and support particularly timely. We are also very grateful to the Scottish Arts Council for their funding and wise advice over many years."
Bill Taylor, Chairman of Scottish Opera said:
"Scottish Opera, as one of the National Performing Companies, welcomes our new status and funding partnership with the Scottish Executive.
"We will continue to perform opera at the highest possible artistic standard throughout Scotland, encompassing the larger cities, national touring and a deep commitment to outreach and education.
"We rightly believe that the performing arts are one of the jewels in the crown of a confident Scotland and the creation of the National Performing Companies will ensure that we can deliver the very best value for the taxpayers' investment."
Cindy Sughrue, Executive Producer
"Scottish Ballet welcomes the status of National Performing Company, and looks forward to working with the Scottish Executive to enhance the international reputation of Scotland's creative industries.
"Scottish Ballet is committed to playing a national role in, and on behalf of Scotland, and this support willenable the Company to produce more work and tour more frequently, showcasing Scottish artistic excellence to new, diverse audiences, in turn helping to sustain a culturally healthy and confident Scotland. This support also presents Scottish Ballet with exciting opportunities to expand and develop its pioneering education programme which encourages a greater understanding of, and passion for, the arts.
"This support will enable us to fully realise our potential as a National Company in conjunction with our planned move to Tramway in 2008."
Roy McEwan, Managing Director, Scottish Chamber Orchestra
"The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is going into its new relationship with the Scottish Executive with great enthusiasm and confidence.
"Our detailed work with officers in the Culture Division in recent months has been very productive and encouraging and has already hinted at great scope for us all to work together to realise our ambitions for Scotland and for the companies themselves.
"We look forward to our new partnership as well as sustaining our valued existing relationships with the Scottish Arts Council and local authorities throughout the country."
In January 2006 the Minister signalled her intention to recognise the unique role of the national performing arts companies by redefining those companies according to criteria for the highest artistic performance.
Scotland's National Performing Companies were allocated revenue grant funding in 2006-07 that totals £19,808,027 rising to £23,099,633 (including an international touring and showcasing fund of £350,000) in 2007-08.