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re Glasgow‘s celebrations as European Cultural Capital to have lasting impact or will they turn out to have been a flash in the pan? The question ofwhat will survive beyond the next Hogmanay bash is now being decided as 1991‘s budget for the arts is finalised. At particular risk is the Tramway Theatre‘s ability to put on innovative works ofnational and international significance.
The cost of running the building and producing this year‘s diverse programme has been borne by the Glasgow 1990 arts budget. along with substantial funding from Strathclyde Regional Council. the Scottish Arts Council and sponorship from various foreign governments. The theatre‘s administration believes that. for the Tramway‘s national importance to be maintained. the District Council must continue to provide the operation with a secure footing. as the programme itselfwould be strong enough to encourage money from other sources. Indeed. many people have been impressed with the commercial success of the Tramways most recent visitors. the radical Wooster Group.
In 1988, the conversion ofthe Old Museum of Transport in Albert Drive provided a unique performing space for Peter Brook‘s acclaimed production of The Mahabharata. This drew attention to the potential of the building as a venue of international standard. Since then. the Tramway has gone on to present a stunning programme ofwork from all over the world. from Scotland and from the Glasgow community.
‘I don‘t know of any other space like it in Britain.‘ says Gerry Mulgrew. director of Communicado‘s production ofloc'k Tamsmz 's Bairns. which was seen at the Tramway at the beginning ofthe Year ofCulture. ‘The actual space itself is inspirational. It gives you the
As Glasgow’s year as cultural capital of Europe enters its final stages. Alan Morrison looks ahead to the financial implications for the Tramway
possibility to explore a multitude of innovative stagings.‘
On the subject ofthe theatre‘s ability to bring to Scotland artists of international repute. he adds that ‘contact between performing artists and allowing the audience to see what is going on in other parts of the world is what a cosmopolitan city should be doing. It would be criminal ifthat disappeared.‘
In its short history. the Tramway has not only been used for theatre performances. but also for music and visual arts. It was the August venue for the Scottish Early Music (‘onsort's version of 17th century opera. La Vita llumana. ‘Because the Tramway's acoustics are so marvellous.‘ says SEMC's Jak Edwards. ‘we were able to perform what is in effect a very intimate piece in a large venue. I don’t suppose anyone could build a place with such wonderful acoustics.”
Should the Tramway survive with a commitment not just to presenting. but also to co-producing. unusual work. then it is possible that it may be invited to join the prestigious 'l‘rans Europe llalles. an international network of performance spaces which held its annual conference at the Tramway a few weeks ago. Working in collalmration with this group. the Tramway could strengthen Glasgow‘s position at the forefront of European culture.
The District Council is in an unenviable position. squeezed by central government cutbacks and forced to pick tip the tab for the l’oll Tax. But giving the Tramway full financial support would ensure that the momentum ofthe 1990 City ofCulture be carried forward to the end of the century. No other single venue is able to import radical foreign work. to support Scottish artists. and to capitalise on direct community input at this scale and level.
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David Jones, American economist. on the state at the US lederai budget.
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Former Tory MP tor Aberdeen South. Gerry Malone, now prospective candidate for Winchester and Alton.
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Team manager Uii Stieliire alter Switzerland’sf-t defeat by Scotland, voicing an opinion heard on the terraces every Saturday.
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Letter to The Scotsman on women
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