LEADING actors, famous alumni and a former First Minister, have called for Scottish Youth Theatre to be given cash to halt its closure.

Alex Salmond, who stepped in with an emergency package of funds for the company (SYT) in 2014, said he hopes a funding boost can “save the day once again”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, told the Scottish Parliament yesterday that the potential closure of the 40-year-old company, which has mentored stars such as Gerard Butler, Kate Dickie, Blythe Duff, Karen Gillan and a host of other actors and theatre workers, was of serious concern.

ANALYSIS: Should the Government take Scottish Youth Theatre out of Creative Scotland's hands?

She said: “Scottish Youth Theatre does fantastic work and I think that it is the desire of all members for it to be able to continue to do so.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “I certainly give a commitment that we will do everything we can to fully explore all options to allow young people in future to benefit from the Scottish Youth Theatre in the way that young people have done in the past.”

The youth theatre said it is to close in July after arts agency Creative Scotland decided to not give it a regular funding (RFO) package in its recent controversial decision making.

Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, is to meet SYT on Monday and Ms Sturgeon said she would see if “there is some action that the Scottish Government could be party to that would help to secure a future for it.”

Last night Mr Salmond said: “I thought the SYT well merited support back in 2014 given the incredible role it has played with young people and indeed the number of stars whose careers it has nourished over the last 40 years.

“I was particularly impressed by their efforts promoting Scotland in the US around Tartan Day, their amazing production of Now’s The Hour which captured the mood of 2014 and also their work with young performers from across the Commonwealth in the run up to the Glasgow Games.

“Funding decisions are always difficult but I would hope that, even at this stage, a similar initiative can save the day once again.”

The actor John Gordon Sinclair, who attended the Glasgow Youth Theatre, said he thought the SYT should be “ringfenced”: “I think I am a direct beneficiary of something like this, I understand how important it is.

“It’s a real tragedy that something like this, that is so important to these kids, is now facing closure.

“There’s things like the Royal Bank of Scotland that’s been propped up by tax payers money, why don’t they take some of that and give it to the youth theatre?”

ANALYSIS: Should the Government take Scottish Youth Theatre out of Creative Scotland's hands?

Ms Dickie, known for her roles in Red Road and Game of Thrones, said: “Creative Scotland, what a disservice you are doing to young people looking for a pathway into drama, regardless of background or location.

“And your bizarre statement removing yourself from any responsibility for this decision just doesn’t wash.”

At First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP, said: “This year is being billed as the year of young people.

“Are we really going to let Scottish Youth Theatre close?”

Ms Sturgeon added: “The decision about which organisations receive regular funding is for Creative Scotland. In law, the Scottish Government has no role in that process and is not able to intervene in it.

ANALYSIS: Should the Government take Scottish Youth Theatre out of Creative Scotland's hands?

“That said .... the announcement by the Scottish Youth Theatre is of serious concern to many people across Scotland and, indeed, to me “I know that Creative Scotland has approved some funding to allow the organisation to continue to operate while, I hope, they work together to find alternative routes to support, and I encourage the Scottish Youth Theatre to continue those discussions.”

SYT said that it had been overwhelmed “by all the words and message of support” in the last day.