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National Theatre secures permanent headquarters

Scotland's national theatre company is finally to have a permanent home of its own in Glasgow.

Although the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) was never intended have a home theatre, it has not had a permanent office headquarters since it was set up in 2006.

Now a former warehouse in the Spiers Lock area of the city – already home to facilities owned by Scottish Opera and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – is to be transformed into the NTS headquarters with help from a funding package of £2 million from the Scottish Government.

The "creation space" will be the first home where the company, known for productions such as Black Watch, Macbeth and The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, can have office, rehearsal technical and storage facilities under one roof.

The warehouse has been empty for 10 years and is currently owned by Scottish Canals. The refurbishment will be completed with support from the Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership, at a cost of around £5.5m.

The building – which will not be used as a performance space – will not be owned by the NTS, but will be rented. However, it is expected to be a long-term answer to the company's housing issues.

The NTS believes relocating all staff and facilities to this building will bring savings in rental, maintenance and running costs. Currently its stores and staff are in several different rented locations – each with a lease that will expire within the next two years. Initially the plan was for the company to be based in The Bridge in Easterhouse but it could not accommodate all staff. The company instead took up temporary residence in an office in Hope Street. It then moved to an office in Port Dundas on a short-term lease but a hoped-for move to an old industrial shed in Govan fell through.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "Even when money is tight, it is essential our National Theatre can flourish.

"This proposed development will enable greater opportunities for collaboration across the organisation, as well as providing better creative and community facilities."

Richard Findlay, chairman of the NTS, said: "The potential development of a refurbished building for the NTS is the logical next step in the company's journey. We are grateful to the Scottish Government for its support of this prospective improvement in the company's operations.

"From original small headquarters in Glasgow's Easterhouse and the city centre, to our current collection of offices, rehearsal spaces and stores, the consolidation of these functions, under one roof, offers us a wonderful opportunity without compromising our 'theatre without walls' philosophy.

"In addition, the location of the site will hopefully enable us to build a positive relationship with communities in Glasgow's Maryhill, Possilpark and Springburn. We would also hope to be in a position to be a support to other theatres and arts organisations in Scotland given the additional rehearsal space we will have."

In addition to the funding for the NTS, Ms Hyslop has allocated £2m for maintenance and refurbishment of the National Museum of Scotland's estate, £1.5m to top up Creative Scotland's oversubscribed capital programme, and £1.4m for work on Historic Scotland properties.

This is part of the £205m programme of capital projects announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney in December.

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