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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 00:35 GMT
Funding call for theatre company
7:84 website
The company has concerns about its future funding
A highly political theatre company that fears its funding could be under threat has received the support of more than 20 MSPs.

They have signed two separate motions lodged at Holyrood calling for the Scottish Arts Council to give 7:84 the resources it needs to carry on.

The company, founded more than 30 years ago on socialist principles, faces closure if its subsidy is withdrawn.

Many MSPs condemned the arts council's attitude to 7:84's performances.

Eighteen members signed a motion lodged by Scottish National Party MSP Sandra White, which applauds the work done by the company.

Future funding

Her motion criticises the Scottish Arts Council for statements in its reports which said that 7:84 had "no national role" and claimed that the company was "turning sharp political satire into panto for the working classes".

Ms White said the arts council should commit itself fully to future funding of the company.

A separate motion from Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie commends the educational work done by 7:84 in bringing the play Tipping Point into Scottish schools.

BBC production of The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil in 1974
The BBC screened The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

He also praises Scottish Opera for taking its work into primary schools and urges the arts council and the Scottish Executive to make money available for both organisations to continue their work.

Many of the 17 MSPs who put their name to his motion also supported the one lodged by Ms White.

The company said it had evidence that council members were being advised to end its funding at a meeting later this month.

Taking its name from the 1960s statistic which asserted that 7% of the population owned 84% of its wealth, the company was founded by playwright John McGrath.

Scottish tour

It began life in England to produce the play Trees in the Wind, which was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival in 1971.

In 1973 Mr McGrath founded 7:84 Scotland, which went on to be known for plays like The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil. He died in 2002.

The company's latest production, which begins a Scottish tour at Paisley Arts Centre on Thursday, is Free-Fall - an attack on the right to buy council houses.

The company's aims are to entertain and politically energise audiences and to increase access to theatre for the geographically or economically disadvantaged.

Watch a report on the theatre company's history

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