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The latest Scottish Govermnent figures (2016) show there are 545 performing arts companies in Scotland.

That includes those providing support activities, theatrical facilities and casting agents, as well as performance companies themselves. Between them, they support almost 5,000 jobs across Scotland.

The big picture  

Creative Scotland undertook a review of Scotland’s theatre sector in 2012. It found a strong focus on new work and extensive international reach, along with a stable, experienced workforce and plenty of new talent coming through. It also noted the strength of connections between companies in the sector, and the mutually-supportive attitude they share. There was a geographically-diverse spread of venues, and (at that time) audience numbers were improving.  

On the other hand, the report highlighted a drop in spend on foundation theatres, and a lack of touring shows for Scotland’s excellent venues. It identified the difficulties workers can experience in mid-career, a significant skills gap on the technical side, and said the children’s theatre sector, while offering excellent productions, relied too heavily on too few people and companies. Finally, it expressed concerns about the narrow audience demographic, a shortage of shared intelligence about box office performance and the lack of debate about the quality of work.

Working in theatre   

Many of the people working in Scottish theatre have been involved in the sector for some time — Creative Scotland identified an average of around 17 years. That creates stability and ensures a strong supply of knowledge and skills. At the same time, it’s no barrier to new talent coming through — in terms of age range, the largest group of workers fell between 25 and 34.  

It’s common to have a ‘portfolio career’ in the theatre — in other words, working flexibly between different roles — and freelancers are well represented.  

Developing your skills 

The Federation of Scottish Theatre provides a range of courses for professionals in the performing arts, as well as opportunities to network and learn from peers. The National Theatre of Scotland creates productions, courses, post-show discussions and professional masterclasses through its LEARN department. And membership of UK Theatre gives you access to courses in everything from managing taxes to successful touring, from specialised health and safety to strategic business and finance.  

Funding and support  

Creative Scotland’s Made in Scotland funding helps to promote music, theatre and dance at the Edinburgh Fringe and internationally, as well as supporting international touring. The Culture and Business Fund Scotland aims to bring arts and heritage activities together with business sponsors, and provides match funding for every pound raised. Bursaries from the Federation of Scottish Theatre can help to support professional development opportunities and placements for both new and experienced staff.  

Looking for sound advice and/or a sounding board?

Contact us to organise a meeting with one of our experienced and friendly creative industry advisors.