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Ballet's ambitious plans for Tramway Move called hugely positive

SCOTTISH Ballet yesterday welcomed its controversial proposed move to the Tramway arts venue in Glasgow as it laid out its plans for the first time.

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The national dance company's move to the venue in the city's south side has caused uproar in the visual arts community, as the placing of its headquarters in the former tram depot and museum would mean the closure of the Tramway 2 gallery space. Glasgow City Council, which owns the venue, have claimed the move is not a ''done deal'', and last night Scottish Ballet insisted that its ambitious plans are subject to a successful bid for National Lottery money from the Scottish Arts Council. However, the company statement said that plans for the move from its West Princes Street home were bold. The statement, which was written jointly by the company's marketing team and Christopher Barron, its chief executive, said: ''There are many issues attached to Scottish Ballet being based at Tramway, but most are hugely positive. ''At the present time, any proposal is subject to a successful lottery bid, but we anticipate the proposal will fulfil an important part of the Scottish Arts Council dance strategy.'' Scottish Ballet said its plans for the site depend on a large amount of new building work, including an area of unused land on the Tramway site, specifically behind St Ninian's Episcopal Church in Albert Drive. The theatre part of the Tramway site, Tramway 1, the Stables, Tramway 4, which acts as a studio, and the internal ''street'' area would remain untouched. These would, the ballet say, ''enjoy substantially greater use by both Scottish Ballet's performance programme and busy educational activities''. The company added: ''The issue regarding Tramway 2 is not a subject for Scottish Ballet to adjudicate on. Glasgow City Council's policy for the visual arts and the number of spaces and organisations it supports is an issue for them. ''However, despite everyone's best efforts, Tramway is currently under-used. ''The beautiful new hidden garden at the rear of the Tramway is a gem for visitors and residents and would be seen by so many more people should Scottish Ballet take up residence. ''New large-scale subsidy could change that. Or, by introducing a funded client such as Scottish Ballet, new life would be brought to the building and potential as a thriving centre for arts and the community would be fulfilled.'' Artists and curators from across Scotland are campaigning against the plans, and there have been several demonstrations outside the site and the SAC's meeting last week. The Tramway has launched the careers of award-winning Scottish artists such as Douglas Gordon and Christine Borland, and is regarded as having inspired other arts venues across Britain. The row surrounding the site has been inflamed further by the suspension two weeks ago of Alexia Holt, the respected arts curator for the Tramway, ''pending an investigation''. Ms Holt remains suspended. Scottish Ballet has been relaunched in recent weeks to acclaim under the leadership of Ashley Page, its new artistic director. However, its current home in the west end of the city is dilapidated and it has been searching for new rehearsal and office space for some time. With a new base in the Tramway, the company believes it can create a vibrant ''dance hub'' in the south side.

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