2. About the National Performing Companies
2.1 The five National Performing Companies are:
National Theatre of Scotland (
Established 2006, Glasgow headquarters
Royal Scottish National Orchestra (
Formed 1891, Glasgow headquarters
Founded 1969, Glasgow headquarters
Scottish Chamber Orchestra (
Formed 1974, Edinburgh headquarters
Founded in 1962, Glasgow headquarters
2.2 The funding relationship between the National Performing Companies and the Scottish Government began in April 2007. The Companies support the Scottish Government’s policy aim of Scotland being ‘renowned at home and abroad as a creative nation, with a rich heritage, contributing to the world as a modern dynamic country’ making a significant contribution to cultural life in Scotland and regularly producing work internationally.
2.3 They operate on a scale which distinguishes them from other performing arts organisations in local communities, across Scotland’s largest stages and through UK wide and international tours. The Companies do this in partnership with other performing arts organisations operating in Scotland, many of which are funded by Creative Scotland. The role of education, learning and community involvement is central to the artistic purpose of all five Companies and they all share a desire to communicate with as large and diverse an audience as possible.
2.4 The five Companies have the same constitutional structure, being independent private companies limited by guarantee and registered as charities in Scotland. They are all governed by a Board of voluntary, non-executive Directors, which may include some designated local authority Councillors. The Scottish Government plays no part in the recruitment of any Board or senior staff appointments for any of the National Performing Companies. The Scottish Government receives Board papers, but does not attend Board meetings.
2.5 The Companies all operate a mixed economy, and receive income from a variety of sources in addition to a grant from the Scottish Government. Each of the organisations operates on a different business model with a distinctive set of aims and objectives. They are required by the Scottish Government to seek to increase income from private sponsorship and non-public income year-on-year. These sources include earned income from ticket sales, performance and education fees, fundraising, commercial, or merchandising income.
2.6 The relationship between the Scottish Government and the Companies is managed by the Sponsorship and Funding Team within the Culture and Historic Environment Division. Since coming into a direct funding relationship with the Scottish Government, the five Companies have been encouraged to find ways of working together to maximise the impact and effectiveness of their operations. This led to the formation of the National Performing Companies Forum in 2007. The Forum brings the Chief Executive Officers together regularly, occasionally bringing in the Company Chairs. This relationship extends down within the Companies, with similar regular meetings of Marketing, Education, Production and Finance personnel.
Individual Company Profiles
2.7 The National Theatre of Scotland operates on an exceptional building-free model, producing, co-producing, investing in and kick-starting productions and the work of theatre-makers, established and emergent, across the country.
2.8 Work is toured in venues large and small across Scotland, often leading to UK wide and international opportunities. The Company operates a flexible business model, working on a project basis to engage creative teams and performers as required to deliver each production. It commissions new plays, new versions of classic texts and co-produces with other Scottish-based and international theatre companies to enable contemporary theatre making of the highest quality and for all ages.
2.9 Laurie Sansom was in place as Artistic Director at the time of this report, stepping down in April 2016. Lucy Mason took over as Chief Executive - a role Sansom also held - in the interim, from July 2016. Jackie Wylie was appointed the new Artistic Director in October 2017.
2.10 The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is Scotland’s symphony orchestra employing over 80 musicians. The orchestra performs across the country, including seasons in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness, as well as appearing regularly at the Edinburgh International Festival.
2.11 A wide range of repertoire is played and new works from contemporary composers are regularly commissioned. During the period of this report Peter Oundjian was the Music Director with Thomas Søndergård announced in early 2018 as its next music director, 58th leader of the orchestra’s artistic team, from September 2018. In this time Elim Chan was announced as Principle Guest Conductor and Sharon Roffman as joint Leader.
2.12 Scottish Ballet is the national dance company for Scotland, employing 40 full-time dancers. Christopher Hampson was appointed as Artistic Director in 2012, and has been Artistic Director/ CEO since 2015. The Company regularly performs across a variety of stages in Scotland, the UK and internationally, usually accompanied by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
2.13 Scottish Ballet presents bold, adventurous performances rooted in strong classical technique. The Company’s broad repertoire includes new versions of the classics and ground breaking commissions, as well as an innovative digital season every two years. An extensive engagement programme, tailored to the needs of diverse communities, promotes confidence, fosters well-being and encourages creativity through dance.
2.14 The Scottish Chamber Orchestra ( SCO) is Scotland’s only professional chamber orchestra. The orchestra has a regular membership of 37 players and has had Robin Ticciati as Principal Conductor since his appointment in 2009. Maxim Emelyanychev was announced in early 2018 as the next Principal Conductor. He is due to take up the post in September 2019.
2.15 The SCO continues to be one of Scotland’s foremost cultural ambassadors and is renowned for its innovative approach to music-making. The Orchestra promotes regular Winter Seasons from October to May in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews, Dumfries and (with the BBC SSO and RSNO) Perth. There are between two and four concerts each week with over 60 concerts in total, forming a 23-week Winter Season.
2.16 During the Summer Season the Orchestra tours to Scotland’s towns and villages. In addition, the SCO undertakes overseas tours, festival appearances and recording sessions throughout the year. The SCO appears regularly at Edinburgh International Festival and produces and performs the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, which ends the Festival each year. Integrated within this programme is the education and outreach work of SCO Connect.
2.17 Roy McEwan announced his retirement from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Summer 2016 after 23 years as Chief Executive. Gavin Reid, former Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, was confirmed as the new Chief Executive in April 2016.
2.18 Scottish Opera is Scotland’s national opera company and the largest performing arts organisation in Scotland. It has a considerable reputation for its distinguished productions, alongside world-leading opera education programmes including the Connect youth company.
2.19 The Company programmes a range of main-stage opera, to appeal to the varied tastes of the audience, as well as commissioning new work. Both approaches offer opportunities to develop the opera audience in Scotland. It regularly performs in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness as well as undertaking annual tours of smaller-scale productions providing performances in local theatres, village halls and community centres across Scotland. At the time of this report, Stuart Stratford was the Music Director having started in June 2015.
2.20 The National Theatre of Scotland has an education and community strand, Learn, running alongside the main productions. It is committed to increasing engagement and participation in arts activities within communities across Scotland and works closely with local authorities and other organisations to deliver far reaching, influential arts projects.
2.21 The National Theatre of Scotland encourages young people to pursue a career in the arts through the biennial youth theatre festival Exchange and creative engagement opportunities organised in association with company productions, including workshops, exhibitions and interactive games. It also works with schools, colleges, universities and youth theatre groups to inspire the next generation of artists.
2.22 Engine Room is the National Theatre of Scotland’s talent development programme. The programme focuses on engaging and empowering artistic communities, while still supporting individual artists, collectives, and companies. This work is carried out at Rockvilla and nationwide, providing artists an environment in which they can develop skills, networks and create new work.
2.23 Through their education programme, Engage, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra connects its music and musicians to people across Scotland, offering activities for new-borns and onwards through the RSNO Music for Life initiative. The RSNO are committed to delivering high impact community projects, workshops and educational concerts as well as encouraging and developing new talent.
2.24 Each year the RSNO stages a series of presenter-led concerts for primary school aged pupils across Scotland, featuring the full Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The performances include interactive features such as visual projections and aim to increase the pupils’ understanding and appreciation of music. The orchestra also presents interactive concerts for Nursery and Primary 1 aged pupils, aiming to provide very young audiences with their first experience of a live symphony orchestra.
2.25 The RSNO runs a Young Ambassadors programme with up to 20 participants each year from all over Scotland, as well as a Youth Takeover initiative through which young people aged 16-18 work in various departments of the organisation to produce a public concert. The RSNO Community Orchestra provides an opportunity for amateur musicians to play together and the RSNO Chorus Academy is open to all, aiming to build participants’ confidence in singing techniques and reading a musical score.
2.26 Scottish Ballet is committed to providing transformational creative activities throughout Scotland, in particular for those who face social, physical, mental or geographic barriers.
2.27 Launch is Scottish Ballet’s participatory dance and music programme for primary schools. School workshops are offered alongside each of the ballet’s tours which encourage participants to explore the themes of the production as well as create their own dance moves. Scottish Ballet also presents talks on their creative processes to secondary school pupils.
2.28 The Close is delivered in partnership with The Kibble Care and Education Centre and Gorgie Mills Special School. The project encourages at-risk young people to explore their creativity and develop team work skills whilst offering a first time ballet experience.
2.29 Scottish Ballet also runs a performance company for elder community dancers known as Scottish Ballet Elders' Company ( SBEC).
2.30 SCO Connect is Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s creative learning programme which aims to inspire and enable creativity in communities across Scotland. The extensive programme of activities allows people of any age or ability to interact with the music and the musicians of the orchestra.
2.31 Big Ears, Little Ears is a series of concerts staged by the SCO which is specifically designed for babies and toddlers, allowing families to enjoy chamber orchestra music in a child-focussed environment. Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s flagship project for upper secondary school pupils is known as Masterworks and aims to open up new worlds of music and sound to young people through live performances and workshops.
2.32 In partnership with the University of Edinburgh at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, the SCO runs a programme of interactive workshops for people living with Dementia. SCO Reconnect aims to put patients at the heart of the musical creativity, improve well-being and encourage the use of music within a care setting.
2.33 Scottish Opera provides music and theatre workshops to pupils in primary schools across Scotland, helping to deliver aspects of A Curriculum for Excellence. Pupils are encouraged to engage with the music and learn in a creative environment through the staging of children’s operas.
2.34 Scottish Opera’s Community Choir is open to all and offers a mix of opera, classical, popular, folk and world music.
2.35 Memory Spinners, Scottish Opera’s highly successful programme for people living with dementia, encourages participants and carers to be creative and share memories. The programme uses visual arts as well as music, storytelling and movement to engage and connect with people living with Dementia. Shared memories are then incorporated into relaxed performances for friends and family.