ONE of Scotland's most acclaimed theatre companies is to shut after failing to receive backing from the national arts funding body.

The "world class" Untitled Projects, led by artistic director Stewart Laing, is to be put on ice indefinitely after the company applied for, but failed to get, a three-year support package from Creative Scotland.

Christine Hamilton, chair of the Glasgow-based organisation, said it was shutting down operations and Laing will pursue other directing and design opportunities, with the likelihood that many will be outside Scotland.

Ms Hamilton said that for Untitled Projects, which recently staged an acclaimed play entitled Slope and worked with the National Theatre of Scotland on the successful Paul Bright's Confessions Of A Justified Sinner, the "dream is over."

She said the closure was the direct consequence of the regular funding decisions made by Creative Scotland in October.

She said: "The company is going dark, we are ceasing activity and we won't be doing any more projects.

"The dream is over - and that is really how we see it.

"We are not formally closing the company but it will now be put on the shelf.

"It is a direct consequence of not receiving the Regular Funding. Project funding would not work for us, you cannot plan as we have been doing with project funding and our record of receiving funding has not been great from Creative Scotland.

"Project funding is not the way to develop a company - it is fine for one-off projects. So there are no further projects planned for Untitled Projects - it's sad."

Laing, who formed the company in 1998, will be in demand as a director and designer of both theatre and opera, Ms Hamilton said.

She added: "The difficulty we have with the [Regular Funding] process is that it was depicted as being all-or-nothing, and if you fail to get funding, then it implies you are simply not good enough."

Neil Cooper, theatre critic for The Herald, said: "The loss of Untitled Projects as a going concern is an absolute tragedy.

"This is a world class company producing unique theatre in a way that no other company in Scotland does, and in a way that has been recognised globally.

"Creative Scotland's inexplicable decision not to award Untitled with Regular Funding is a particular insult for Stewart Laing, who is a major artist in every sense of the word."

He added: "Stewart chose to develop his work in Scotland, and if he leaves his home to work abroad because of Creative Scotland's decision, that loss will be something that will tarnish Creative Scotland as an arts funding body for many years to come."

Laing has a long CV as a director and designer of both theatre and opera.

As well as plays such as The Maids, Home: Stornoway, Les Parents and 10 Plagues he has also directed operas include Cosi Fan Tutte and La Boheme for Scottish Opera and a number of operas in Sweden and Germany.

As a designer he has worked for a long list of companies including Scottish Opera,The Citizens, Royal Lyceum, Traverse, Dundee Rep, English National Opera, Opera North, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre.

He has also designed for the West End and Broadway, winning a Tony Award in 1997 for his work on the musical Titanic.

A spokesman for Creative Scotland said: "There is no doubt over the widely recognised quality and resonance of the work produced by Untitled Projects.

"However, we had a far greater number of high quality applications for Regular Funding than we were able to support. While we were able to increase the number of organisations benefitting from three-year funding... there were extremely difficult decisions to be made.

"We would have liked to fund a greater number of organisations through this route had a greater budget been available."

The spokesman add that Untitled Projects can apply for Open Project Funding and would welcome further discussions with them.