Museum hits a high point

PRINCE CHARLES MAY have shown princely displeasure at the architect’s plans, but the new Museum Of Scotland continues to take shape.

A ’Topping Out Ceremony’ is to be held onlS Aug when Donald Dewar, Secretary Of State For Scotland, lays the museum's final top stone.

The £60 million museum will be the first solely dedicated to telling the nation’s history. Due to open on St Andrew’s Day (30 Nov) next year, it is situated next to the Royal Museum of Scotland on Edinburgh’s Chambers Street.

The maverick prince, one-time president of the museum‘s Appeal Committee, is known for speaking his mind on matters of architecture and was unhappy with the choice of architects, London firm Benson & Forsyth. He quit his position in 1991. As Dr Sheila Brock, the museum’s campaign director, says simply, 'he got cold feet over the drawings.’

Dr Brock, who sees the new museum as coming at a crucial time in Scotland’s history, is unperturbed. The museum, which is to house over 12,000 objects, is to be clad in sandstone and have a rooftop garden terrace and a large corner turret. 'It is much more interesting to build a building like this,’ says Brock, who is currently considering who should open the museum. 'To have a royal is prestigious but predictable,’ believes Brock. (Susanna Beaumont)

A new chapter for verse

SOME OF SCOTLAND’S FINEST writers will be present at the birth of a new building for the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

The laying of the Foundation Stone will take place on 1 August, with the new library scheduled to open in Autumn 1998. However the building has already won the Scottish Academy’s gold medal for architecture before a brick has been laid.

Tessa Ransford, the library’s director and founder, believes it could be unique. 'It may be the first time in history that a building specifically for poetry has been inaugurated. The ancient Greeks, with their tradition of theatrical poetry, might argue but you have to go a long way back,’ she commented.

The site, in Edinburgh's Canongate was formerly owned by Younger’s brewery. The new building has works of art integrated into its fabric including poetry engraved in glass and a poem tapestry by Ian Hamilton Finlay.

The relocation has been made possible with a £577,000 lottery grant, but public donations are still being sought to help pay for the artworks. (Stephen Naysmith)

4 must 25 Jul—7 Aug 1997

Scottish Ballet under threat

THE FUTURE OF Scotland's national ballet company is in serious doubt following a calamitous downturn in its financial fortunes.

Performances of a new Christmas ballet The Magic Lamp have been cancelled after Scottish Ballet failed to secure lottery funding, resulting in fears over its core funding.

Ticket sales for performances of The Magic Lamp at the Edinburgh Festival and Glasgow’s Theatre Royal had already reached £2000, and sponsorship of nearly £100,000 was in place when an application for lottery suppOrt was rejected.

The problems began when talks collapsed over a Scottish Office rescue package for the troubled national arts companies. £1.3 million in additional funding was to have been divided between them, but Scottish Ballet was reluctant to accept some of the conditions attached, particularly the merger of its orchestra with that of Scottish Opera's.

When the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) came to make the lottery award, it was viewed unfavourably. Scottish Ballet insiders claim this was retribution for failing to agree to the rescue package. The SAC argues that lottery guidelines made it difficult for it to award funding.

Now the balance of Scottish Ballet's £2.12 million core funding could be withheld because it will not be producing enough performances this year

’The application was turned down because of concerns over our financial viability,’ explained Scottish Ballet spokeswoman Lucy Shorrocks. But without the money, the company is unable to fulfill its programme. We are in a real cleft stick,’ said Shorrocks.

While Scottish Ballet cries foul, others

accuse the company of failing to face financial realities. Shorrocks disagrees: 'Our belts could not be tighter. We are an incredibly lean company. The question is whether Scotland should have a national classical ballet company at a time when we are reclaiming our political identity.’

The SAC will make a final decision on Scottish Ballet’s core funding by the end of next month. It is reluctant to comment on the company’s position. ’Their withdrawal from talks did impact

Scottish Ballet: the company's future is in doubt

on the lottery decision,’ a spokeswoman said. ’The conditions on awarding lottery money are very strict. It was not a punitive move.’

Meanwhile intervention from Glasgow's Lord Provost Pat Lally has provided some cheer for Scottish Ballet. ’Scottish Ballet are not only an artistic and cultural asset, but also welcome employers in the city,’ he said. ’If it came to it we would see if we could assist them in any way.’ (Stephen Naysmith) -

Festival company stages road protest

PROVING REAL LIFE is often pure theatre, a Fringe company is planning to stop Edinburgh traffic in a bid to promote its new play.

The production, Road Rage, dramatises the lifestyle of young eco- warriors famed for their daring protests against road-building. In sympathy, the cast has decided to stage its own protest during week one of the Festival. If everything runs smoothly, they will completely block the High Street on Mon 11 August, a road already infamous for its appalling congestion.

K & B Productions' spokesperson Marie Clements said it was more than just a publicity stunt: 'There’s a great deal of passion about the issue. The cast were aware of the road-protests but until recently, they hadn't been up to their necks in mud for the cause.’

A recent stay in a Lyminge Forest 'bender’ in Kent, site of the latest large-scale protest, firmed up the actors’ resolve but the company's connection with environmental issues goes back further.

Director Lucille O'Flanagan ran the government-funded Theatre In Conservation from 1984 until 1989. Her interest in the Green cause has never wilted and she says authenticity is crucial. 'If anyone in the cast doesn't have direct-action experience, they will before going to Edinburgh,’ Clements added.

And just as well, because this could be a ’lock-on' masterclass. Eco-warriors have made chaining, bolting and locking themselves to vehicles their forte. D-Locks commonly used with mountain bikes are fixed round the neck and bumper. Concrete blocks with embedded handcuffs are also popular obstacles. And with the cast conforming to the 'no-bath' rule, smell could also have an impact on local nasal congestion.

’To be honest it would make a terrific story to get the cast locked up,’ Clements said, ‘but we might have a problem fulfilling our performance obligations. We hope the protest will be bloody realistic and people won't know the difference between these

actors and the real thing.’

Lothian and Borders Police will have no trouble separating fact from fiction, though. A spokesperson warned: ’If anyone tries to take any steps which were to cause an obstruction of the highway, then we will deal with them in the normal fashion.’ Book now for the special performance in Saughton Prison. (Paul Welsh)


Autheniticity: actors adopt role of eco-warriors