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Theatre proves to be made of gold;Arts in Scotland

Property developers moving in, huge sums of money changing hands, wealthy youth theatre in talks with investment managers - it's an all-too-rare story of Eighties entrepreneurship meeting Sixties idealism. But it is happening to the Scottish Youth Theatre, which found its home in Buchanan Street, Glasgow suddenly the hottest ticket in town, as the tide of commercial development rolled up to its doors.

When the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama left the Old Athenaeum in 1987, the building stood empty and unwanted for two years. The theatre was sold in 1989 to the SYT who were happy to pay the mortgage, because the "Old Ath" gave them their first home after 13 years of rented accommodation.

It was the only home they knew, and when the phone calls started with undreamt of offers, they were at first hesitant.

"Then we realised the building was our greatest asset," says a SYT spokesperson, "and they were making us offers we couldn't refuse."

The SYT's run of Hamlet ends tomorrow night (Saturday), and the company has a week to pack up and move to its temporary home in Mitchell Street. "Business as usual" will be the sign on the door, with classes being held in the RSAMD and Renfield St Stephen's, and the summer festival at the Citizen's.

Thanks to the new money, there will be more staff, including an education officer to develop curriculum-based work in school. Meanwhile, they are listening to investment managers about what to do with their windfall, this once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure the company's future.

Brian Hayward

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